The sports world is abuzz with the new...Tiger Woods missed the cut at last week's Byron Nelson Championship, ending the longest streak in PGA Tour history – 142 straight. Woods went seven years without missing a tournament he entered. It's akin to merging the records of Cal Ripken Jr. with Joe DiMaggio. In golf perspective, Ernie Els now has the longest active cut streak on tour – 20!
By Nancy Haller, Ph.D.
But what is most remarkable about Woods is his relentless drive for continuous improvement. No matter how good he is, he always keeps working on his game. At the top of his field, he can still be seen hitting buckets of balls until dark - even if he's just won. Such prolonged consistency is the mark of an elite athlete. It's also the foundation of being an effective leader.
What binds leadership competencies and core values together is consistency. Without uniform application, leadership characteristics lose their value. Inconsistency breeds confusion, frustration and anger. And when leaders send inconsistent messages to employees, the result is inconsistent performance.
Consistent leadership is based on a shared system of beliefs and values that are understood by all members of a team. In turn, employees are more committed because controls that are based on internalized values are much more effective than external-controls that rely on explicit rules and regulations. Internalized values provide a clear set of “do's” and “don'ts”.
The power of leadership consistency is particularly important when team members encounter unfamiliar situations. Because everyone understands the core principles of the practice, actions are consistent with those values. As a leader, when you emphasize those principles, employees react in predictable ways to unpredictable circumstances.
So how consistent are YOU? Answer the following 10 questions yourself. If you are courageous, ask your staff and compare responses.
- Do you change your mind or behavior based on your mood?
- Do you play favorites?
- Do you do different things in parallel situations?
- Do you hold employees to different standards?
- Do you shoot for effect?
- Do you exaggerate?
- Do you push your statements to the extreme to make a point?
- Do you overstate negative views?
- Do you ‘walk the talk’?
- Would others know your values if they listened and watched you?
Even if you only had one ‘Yes', you can improve. Every leader has an approach that is unique to them. Don't change your personal style radically. After all, it got you into a leadership position. Modify the rough spots but take care not to confound your staff by displaying inconsistency. The business world is confusing enough without you adding unwelcome surprises into the mix. Keep things simple and consistent.
Communicate positive messages, in your words and in your actions. Whether you realize it or not, your staff watches you. What you do...and what you don't do...send strong messages to your employees about your values. Just as laughing, yawning, and crying are infectious, ‘attitude' is infectious. Without saying a word, you can infect the people who see you with the same behavior. When you operate from a useful attitude, such as enthusiasm, curiosity, and humility, your body language sends out unmistakable signals about what you value.
Identify your Achilles Heel and develop daily routines to overcome obstacles. Include some realistic contingencies to reward yourself for taking action. Remember, there is no failure, only learning. Feedback means that you are more likely to be flexible rather than rigid in your dealings with yourself and your staff. Successful people don't cry over spilt milk. The next time you make an error, stop blaming yourself or others. Think about what happened and decide what you will do differently for a better result next time.
Leaders make the difference between mediocre performance and the great performance of a team! Employees don't quit companies, they quit bosses. And winners strive to keep improving. When Tiger Woods' swing is off, he heads to his coach. Call me if you're struggling to make the leadership cut.
Dr. Haller is available to coach you to higher levels of performance in your practice. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in having Dr. Haller speak to your dental group? Email us at email@example.com or call 1-877-777-6151
Forward this article to a friend.