Camille Rapacz: Are you inconsistent in your leadership behaviors?
Yes. Yes. And would you even know if you were? It's one thing to have good leadership skills. It's another to maintain a level of consistency that demonstrates your commitment to leadership excellence. But what does it mean to be consistent and how do we get there?
Camille: Welcome to The Belief Shift. The show that explores. What you really need to know about building a successful business.
I'm your host, Camille Rapacz: business coach and consultant who spent too much of her career working in corporate business performance.
George: And I'm George Drapeau: your co-host and her brother. I'm a leader in the tech world bringing my corporate perspective, but mostly my curiosity.
Camille: Together, we're exploring beliefs about success and how to achieve it. But mostly we're bringing practical solutions so you and your business can thrive.
Camille Rapacz: Hello, George. Hi, Camille. You know, when I came up with this topic to talk about consistency of leadership, I was imagining how many times we've been having these episodes be about George therapy and immediately I was like, Oh boy, I think this is going to be a therapy session for George.
Am I right? Or is this easy peasy?
George Drapeau: It's going to be a fun episode. It's easy peasy. And I have all kinds of stories about what goes wrong with inconsistency stuff. That's just going to be fun. I love this topic too, but consistency, what I like about it, I think is what I like about some of the, my favorite topics of yours in that really the secret to making this thing happen is not that difficult.
It's not that difficult, we just don't do it. It's not that hard to be consistent, but many of us miss the mark. I missed the mark plenty of times, but I have ways of thinking about it that I try to help me be more consistent. Well, I'm looking forward to getting into it.
Camille Rapacz: I'm looking forward to hear how you work on being consistent, because I do think it's a kind of maybe an underrated aspect of leadership. And it can be really challenging because we, it's hard for us to see our own inconsistencies. So that's kind of the a number one thing. So as a leader, me recognizing my own inconsistencies can be very difficult.
And then on top of that, people tend not to want to point this out to their leaders. If they're being inconsistent, it's kind of hard to get good feedback about it. And then we also tend to underestimate the impact that we have as leaders and how when we show up inconsistently, the impact that that can have on our team.
And I find that that's true of so many leaders who really just underestimate how much their team is looking to them for that guidance and that consistency. So it can be challenging for all those reasons, and yet I also agree with you that this isn't a hard thing to tackle in terms of what to do, it's just bringing it front of mind is challenging.
So that's what makes it a good episode because we can bring it front of mind for everybody. I think so. Absolutely. Now, one thing I want to point out before we get too far into this, which is that I also think it's important that leaders be adaptable. And that's not what we're talking about here. So we'll dig into rigid.
Yes. So we want to dig into later how to be how to adapt as a leader. And that's not what we mean by being consistent or inconsistent. So we'll dig into some examples and it'll make sense. But I just wanted to point that out. I think it's important that we talk about. How to adapt as a leader in different scenarios.
George Drapeau: Yeah. There's a difference between consistent and inflexible. I get that. Yeah.
Camille Rapacz: Yeah, exactly. So I thought the best way to do this would just talk about some examples. The idea here is to just bring it front of mind for people, but also maybe have some fun talking about the crazy stuff that happens when we're inconsistent as leaders.
Yes. So here we go. You ready? I'm ready. Oh, I will. I will say just for the listener, if you happen to hear some interesting noises in the background, it's because George his family just got a new puppy. And her name is Maggie and she's freaking adorable. And she's in the room with him for the first time.
We're testing out how well Maggie does as a podcast assistant. We'll find out.
So we're just going to walk through some examples and chat about them.
*Example number one* is not following your own rules or having an uneven policy enforcement. Yeah. So this is, you know, so you say you set expectations with your team. The question to ask yourself is, are you keeping those same expectations for yourself? Or are you allowing some exceptions for somebody on your team?
Now, you know, I always complain that everything's too black and white, so let's not pretend that this is also that black and white, that everybody 100 percent always follows the rules. There's always going to be an exception. But where I see leaders will get into trouble here is when they aren't transparent about the reason for the exception, or when they just don't even acknowledge it's happening. That they're making this exception. And that it keeps occurring, and people see it, and they don't even acknowledge that they're doing this, that they have this behavior.
It's also can show up if a leader this is when I think it's the worst, is when a leader is making an exception, for an employee's poor behavior. This is about reinforcing expectations, behaviors, policies. And they're doing it because that person happens to be an excellent individual contributor.
So, so and so gets away with some bad behavior because they're the best, I don't know, salesperson or something like that. These are some just examples of how this might show up, but I'm sure this has never happened to you, George, you've never been on a team where inconsistency and in this way has shown up!
George Drapeau: It's funny, as you're saying these words, I was thinking these are exactly the words I would have said in this instance, it's exactly the same thing with the same examples. On the tech side, it's that way too. And I'm sure if people pay attention to what's happened in tech in the last five years or so, you're hearing a lot more about.
How misogynistic and how emotionally abusive the tech world has been, it's not like it's been recently, but we're hearing more about it and you hear excuses about what high performing teams getting a pass. Even though they treat each other really badly and they're just insulting to other people.
It's no different from the top sales person. It just was ugly. It's just ugly. I've seen this all the time. The uneven policy enforcement. Absolutely. The one that really resonates with me and I think is easily correctable is not following your own rules. I totally agree. It's fine to make exceptions for the rule.
If you do that. It'd be helpful if you could state why you're making the exception. Simple as that. And, hey, if you're making the exception because, oh, well, this is the top performer, then I'm giving them a different set of rules. Sure, go ahead and say that. Your team will start quitting on you, but at least you'll know why.
And then you'll know that was a bad reason to make that exception. So, self correcting feedback loop.
Camille Rapacz: Yeah, I mean, that is one of the reasons to do this, to think, okay, how would I, if I had to explain this to somebody, why I'm making this exception, can I, in good conscience, explain it? To how do I feel about this decision?
And maybe it helps you then correct your own. Actions and behaviors around that like, you know what? This really isn't right now that I am about to say it out loud, I realize this isn't okay. And we've all been there. We've all been under that pressure. So, you know, I don't want to pretend for a minute that there is such a thing as the perfect leader who has never been under this kind of strain and made exceptions in ways that they later thought maybe they shouldn't have done.
Or maybe you did think it was right at the time. And it was just that was the only choice you had. Right. That's just what you were working with. So this does happen, but being aware of it and not letting it get out of control. I think the place where this is, it's funny. I was about to say, I think if you are consistently inconsistent, you're in really big trouble.
And I've seen leaders be that way. They're just all over the place with this.
So this number one, not following your own rules.
I think that's the thing I would say to pay attention to the most. Yeah. Focus on yourself. As a leader, am I following my own rules that I've set for my team, whether it's just showing up to meetings on time or how you expect to communicate. Are you using the channels that you've set up? Are you, following the guidelines you have for the team?
Just be the example for your team as much as you can. And don't beat yourself up if you're not perfect, just do the best that you can with it. That's the thing I think people should focus on.
George Drapeau: Can I make a comment about this, about the reasons why? That's why you're here. I guess that's true. When I think about like, why are we inconsistent?
What I'm sure there are many reasons why, but there's two that stand out to me that I find personally very annoying, especially when it's my management of above me, who's been inconsistent. When they're being inconsistent. Many times I'll find it seems to be one of two reasons. One, as you pointed out, they're unaware.
They're just not aware of the inconsistency and I get it. You know, executive leadership, higher management has a bunch of things on their plate. We've got one section of that so we can spend all of our brainpower in that one section, find all the loopholes on the ways they're wrong. And they've got like 10 times that many things to think about.
So for them not to realize the inconsistency, I can give them a pass on that as long as they're open to feedback.
I find it annoying though when it's like that and I feel like they should have done a more thorough job.
The second reason is cowardice. Basically, like I'm being given an inconsistent rule or inconsistent direction or something.
And when I ask, well, how does that line up? The more consistent way would be like this. And they say, well, no, and we'll make up some reason. That's clearly not a consistency reason. It doesn't answer the question, but I strongly get the feeling like just own your exception. If you're being inconsistent for some other reason, then just own it and live with the consequences.
And if that pisses off your direct reports, your organization, then you have to live with that, but you don't get to just hide away from your actions. You're going to ruin morale that way. You might as well just be a villain who's explicit about being a villain than to try to be a good guy, but you're really a villain.
Camille Rapacz: Yes. And I think that there's a whole lot that we could unpack. Probably in another episode, just around this idea of the pressure that leaders are under and, and how, when they have to make really hard decisions, they're trying to either soften the blow to other people, or they're trying to soften the way people respond to them personally about it.
Like you said, I don't really want to be the villain here. So they kind of try to work around it in a bunch of ways. And, that's like a whole other level of conversation of like what do you do when you have to make a really difficult decision in the business and communicate it and all of a sudden you're popping outside of all of the behaviors and norms and guidelines that you have for everybody. Because it's at that level .It's creating that much strain and I think that's What you're really describing is the higher up that leaders go, the more stress and strain that they're under and all of that stress and strain that's what makes you inconsistent. It causes you to have these different reactions.
So this is what makes it hard to do. And why a lot of times when we're complaining about this, we're complaining about the people above us doing it, let's be honest. That's mostly what's happening is we're like, what's up with those jokers up there?
But at the end of the day, the best thing you can do is be aware of your own again, just back to like, what is my own level of consistency? Can I at least demonstrate that for me and my team? And it starts to improve things at least at the local level, even if you can't yet influence the broader level.
But on a broader level, this is where I always hope for leadership, executive leadership teams to really engage in improving how their team operates. And this is one of the number one things that always comes up is, are we being consistent?
Let's talk about another example, because I think this one kind of shows up in a sneaky little ways as well, which is when your leader is constantly changing priorities. So if you are redirecting your team from one priority or project to the next with no explanation, or sometimes leaders think that all their team needs to know is like, I'm giving you an assignment and just go, and they're not giving them any context for that assignment.
And so today is the assignment is this tomorrow. The assignment is something else, but a high performing team needs context. Like, that's part of how you create a high performing team. It's also this changing of priorities can demonstrate that there either isn't maybe a bigger strategic plan that's driving decisions.
And when you're bouncing people around from one priority to another, people start to lose confidence in their leadership. It also could be an indicator that, you know, so if you yourself find like, wow, I'm, I am constantly changing priorities. If you're not really clear on priorities, it could be a, what the thing I just said, you don't have clear priorities coming from The organization as a whole, but it also could mean that you're just struggling with the process of setting priorities.
I don't have a clear process for how I do that on a regular basis to make sure we know how to stick with them. So I'm always just reacting. Sometimes I see leaders that you can tell that they're reacting to just the last conversation they had. Do you ever know those leaders are like, Oh, they must have just talked to so and so because now they're telling me that the priority is X, and yesterday it was different .
They're just heavily influenced by whoever they last talked to.
George Drapeau: I want to let's let managers off the hook on this one a little bit, not really, but one of the things that happens. When I explain the transition from individual contributor to management, say, one of the main things that happens that will probably catch you by surprise is that most of your job feels like it's an interrupt mode.
You move away from this land where you could just, once you have your priorities set, you get to pick how to allocate your time and spend many hours focusing on, you know, writing your code or getting something done. And it's this beautiful world. You don't realize how good you have it. And you get to be a manager.
And if you're a good manager and you're serving others, So much of your day is responding to things, reacting to things, and it's much harder to carve out time for you to be proactive. And it's very easy for a manager's whole life to become interrupt driven, you know, reactive in nature.
It's hard to fight against that. I totally see how that will have a longer term effect of losing sight of priorities or being consistent about priorities because you're no longer you're operating that way. You're being trained to be interrupted and you're being trained to be yanked around. That's a fair thing to say in manager's defense.
I've gone through that myself earlier in my career.
Camille Rapacz: I do know what you mean. And we might be a little bit talking about different things. So, cause you started making me think about, there's a level of, I need to be able to respond in order to meet people's needs. And that is when you're managing the work, that's what you're doing.
But as you're doing that, you do need to be prioritizing because you can't expect you and your team to do all of the things. You're going to have too many things. Even if that means today team, I want us to anchor around this problem. This is the priority.
That's what I want you to really focus on today. You can change it tomorrow as long as you're clear and communicate it and you have, a reason behind it. It's when people are getting reassigned in these much bigger ways. Like, Hey, I know I told you to go off and work on this big project and objective George, but you know what?
Scrap that. We're going to go do this other thing. And you're like, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Why? I just spent weeks on this other, why am I doing this new thing? Why is that a priority? And then later they'll come back and say like, well, what happened to that first project you were working on? You're like, but I thought you redirected me.
The inconsistency is when it doesn't serve a purpose and oftentimes it comes out of this people pleasing thing. I need to please the whoever over in this other department or my boss or whatever, make it look like we're working on the right stuff, but I haven't really done a good job of setting clear priorities.
So yeah, you are going to be responding and doing a lot of different things as a manager. But I also think that one of your jobs in that role is I do need to figure out what priorities look like and how I at least do my best job to keep my team focused on those so that they don't get overwhelmed with the myriad of millions of things that come at them.
And also, when you're in that job, ask for clarity. If you are in the position where you're like, I'm getting thrown a bunch of different priorities from my boss. Get clarity on those priorities. Ask the questions. And I think oftentimes leaders don't ask the questions and they just take on all the work and then they just go try and flood through it instead of trying to get some direction from people.
And often if you just ask, they'll be like, Oh yeah, I can help. Let me help to prioritize this with you. That's great. I can do that.
George Drapeau: I've seen that happen plenty of times where somebody finally gets the gumption to ask their manager, like, can you give me more background? Why am I doing this? And the manager, Oh, sure.
Here's what's going on until the story and they never thought to give that context before. Most of the time, your manager's happy to give you that. Yeah.
Camille Rapacz: And this totally feeds into my next example, which, we did a whole conversation about, which is inconsistent communication.
So when you're not equally sharing information across the team, or, you're sending conflicting messages. Or this example, we just talked about, like, I'm not consistently telling my team when I give them assignment, I'm not also giving them enough background for them to actually understand the direction I'm sending them.
You're just kind of inconsistent and all over the place with the way that you're communicating. So building in all that consistency. And what do I communicate when I'm changing gears with my team or when I'm assigning them priorities or whatever I'm doing. How do I consistently make sure they have all the information they need?
How do I make sure I don't send conflicting messages to my team? Which one of the ways you do that is changing priorities all the time with no reason for it. Do you have regular communication channels even established? Regular touch bases with my team members. I mean, I know leaders who don't do any of that. Yeah, and it's really important to have this consistency of communication. Some people think it's a waste like well if I have these meetings and I don't need them? Well, if you have regular touch points with your team and you think you don't need them, I think that the problem isn't that you have too many meetings, I think is that you're not thinking about the best way to connect with your team on what topics. So there's work to be done in there.
Now, frequency. That's a whole other question. Does it need to be weekly or monthly or how often varies by the team. But the consistency is what matters. It doesn't have to be all the time.
Yeah. It just has to be something everybody can count on. So both in the messaging and in the how you do it. I think this is a really big space for leaders to improve on their leadership approach by just focusing on this aspect of communication inconsistency.
I had another thought about this consistency and communication thing that it was an example that came up recently, which is just the idea that We're not consistently and maybe this isn't the right word for this in this communication gap, but it kind of came up as I was thinking about this, which is the idea that, somebody will hear it an assignment or there's an expectation laid out and you're like, oh, this is the first time hearing of this.
When clearly you expected you should have heard about this a while ago, if this was an expectation, like it feels like a last minute ask, and that to me speaks to like, Oh, you don't have consistency in this communication because people are getting information at the last minute and they know it. They know they could have known this earlier.
And that's really frustrating and demoralizing.
George Drapeau: Yeah, that's a great one. What was occurring to me as you're talking to this was like, I asked myself, how do I try to be more consistent? I got a couple of go to tricks that I do. And then a technique I'll share with you from a friend of mine who is the most organized or second most organized person I know in my life.
It's either you or her. So one of the things I do is to cadence it out, to schedule it out, like I will put calendar appointments in for quarterly updates on something. Something that I didn't used to think of as a calendar item, you know, I usually think of calendars like basically a week long or more, but things that I need to do every quarter, I'll put in there in the calendar.
It's a good reminder for you to make time to do that task. Very simple. It works.
The other trick that I have about being consistent with communication, especially for things where I feel like I need to update a team is to assign the update to somebody else and say, here, I'd like you to do this update, make them do it.
And in the process of them with minimal guidance from me, them figuring out what to say, they'll come back to me and say, what should I talk about that forces me to think about it in a different way than when I'm doing it, because they have gaps. They make the gaps explicit, and it makes that communication generally go well, plus it's a good, it's a good training exercise for people when trying to grow into leaders, you know, get them to practice doing that, but externalizing it, assign, delegating that communication to somebody else is good for me to try to be better and more consistent about it.
Camille Rapacz: Yeah. You're leveraging all the leader tools to create consistency. Right. Oh, I can delegate tasks. That's right. That's exactly what I'm doing. Yeah. I mean, they do all kind of come together, I love that.
*So number four*, let's talk about this last one. This is consistency and how you show up as a leader.
How you choose to present yourself as a leader. Now, your job as a leader is to present, calm and focus and, all those good things to your team and really to anybody around you. Now, there can be some variation in how you show up depending on the activity, of course. Like, I'm showing up for a team meeting or doing a team building conversation or whatever it is.
It's when a leader is having extreme mood swings and they show up that way.
You're supposed to be this anchor in this good example for people as a leader. That doesn't mean you can't be human and have emotions, but I'm talking about those big mood swings. Do you ever see that? Everybody on the team is always on edge, wondering how this leader is going to show up.
Are they going to be like, all happy or gloom and doom? Is that you? Are you that leader, George? No.
George Drapeau: No, no, no, no, no. Folks, I raised my hand because I wanted to share something with Camille. How dare you? How dare you?
Camille Rapacz: I know it's not you.
George Drapeau: I got a great story about this.
Long time ago the company I was working for bought another company. And the guy who ran it was this charismatic mercurial young guy. He was Basically, this absent father kind of person, he had a private jet.
He actually drove himself to a medical exhaustion at one point when he's flying around the world and had gotten himself so overextended that he had to be hospitalized and hydrated for a couple of days because he had just overdone. It was We would get emails from him at three 30 in the morning when he was, I think had awakened.
Talk about inconsistency, we would send messages to him asking for guidance or whatever, because he was also kind of a control freak. And so we'd say, Hey, what do you want us to do here? And no response. No response for days.
Days. And then all of a sudden we'd hear from his Chief of staff, basically not as chief of staff, but as chief architect, who was basically his best friend. And you really trusted great guy. Don't know why he worked for our leader here. And that guy would say, okay, you know what? Mark was coming to town.
Everybody team meeting tomorrow at headquarters. We're gonna spend the whole day. Like, we'd have less than a day's notice, but his old cronies, I shouldn't say it that way because they're good people, they were used to this behavior. So they'd pick up what they had, get on planes that they needed to, or just come and be ready for this next day.
And they knew they'd be locked up with him for a day and they'd be peppered with questions. They wouldn't be allowed to respond to any emails. It would completely disrupt their teams and they barely had enough time to tell the teams, I'm sorry, I'm going to be absent tomorrow. This happened all the time.
On the other hand, he was also exceedingly generous in some ways. And so he believed in the power of teamwork. So he would force us to go to team dinners with him and then he'd spend time with each one of us really intense one on one time, which was great in its way. It's just the way it came about was really weird.
So he was either completely gone or all over us and you didn't know when it was going to happen. It was just crazy.
Definitely my toughest manager up to that point in my career and one of the three toughest. I wouldn't say he was the worst because there were upsides, but he was one of the three toughest managers I've ever worked for and I've worked for maybe 30.
Camille Rapacz: He sounds like a bit of a diva.
yeah. Oh, yeah. so the consistency in how you show up, that's a pretty extreme example. This is not everybody's, experience, I hope. But if you're a leader listening to this. It's important to think about, you're probably not a D. Va leader, like this guy that George just described.
But, I bet there are ways that you're thinking right now, Huh, I wonder if I've been showing up inconsistently just in, whether it's my mood swings, or the way that I'm interacting with my team. There's so many layers to this to think about and thinking about the benefits of being able to be consistent with those humans and how it helps them to perform better.
This is one of those leadership aspects that is very much about you putting other people first. Your whole reason to be inconsistent is to help other people be able to perform better. And that is going to lead us into a whole other conversation about servant leadership and the fabulousness of that down the road.
But really, that's what this is about. Leaders have to be willing to do this good work at hard, but to be as consistent as you can because it's going to make everything around you, everybody around you is going to be able to function better. And at the end of the day, that is better for you as a leader.
Everyone else functioning better, better for you. There is a give and take of all the goodness that will happen.
George Drapeau: Consistency. I will say, you know, Camille, I'm a late stage parent. I came to parenting late in life. And I don't really have any regrets about it, except I know that if I had been a parent in my early thirties, I would be a much better manager. I can see through parenting a child how many of those skills really apply to management.
For example, consistency. We've talked about this before. The thing about parenting is when we set clear expectations and have consistency in our routines around babies, toddlers, kids, and I think adults crave it. It's just that as adults, I think we realize less how much we actually crave consistency and clear expectations. But when you see it in kids things go so much better when you're consistent and clear about everything, the schedule, what they're going to do. They don't need the excitement of endless variety as much as they need the security of a clear schedule. Like a small example usually we have somebody or babysitter pick up our child from school and that goes fine, but if she gets sick and one of us does it, the first question out of our son's mouth is Where's the babysitter?
How come you're here today? Like, wait, aren't you glad to see me? Maybe, but his first question isn't that his first question is, why are we breaking the pattern here from the fascinating? If you're the parent of older kids, try to remember back to when they were babies and how nice it was when things were consistent and clear and how much easier your life was and how much less dramatic your kids were.
And it's the same with us. It really is the same.
Camille Rapacz: 100%. The tricky balance for leaders and for parents is to find that right balance. How do I find the right balance of structure and consistency that is, supporting this individual or this team? And then how am I also building in enough flexibility and movement to allow them to not feel completely boxed in.
So again, it's not black or white. There's some give and take that you have to find in this. But what we're talking about with this inconsistent problem is that often I see leaders are not giving their teams enough. They're not giving the people that they're counting on. enough consistency in how they're showing up in order for them to perform well.
So I don't want you all to try and be perfect at this, but I do want you to think about where are some areas where I could improve my consistency and how I'm showing up as a leader or how I'm approaching leadership? Whether it's a specific behavior, a policy that you've set for your team or an expectation you have of them that you want to be better at following as well.
There's probably some low hanging fruit in here that you can do as a leader. Absolutely.
That's all I have about inconsistency on leadership. This is fun. Thanks for chatting about it with me.
George Drapeau: It is an awesome topic. And I guess my last comment about it would be this is another one of those topics where it's not rocket science, figuring out how to be more consistent. I think there's discipline that you need to be able to apply, like having a regular exercise habit. I think it's similar kind of thing.
So I won't say it's easy, but it's not difficult to understand how to become more consistent.
Camille Rapacz: Yeah, and I do think that there's some things that you probably could identify that you're like, ah, you know what, it wouldn't really be that hard for me to do this thing more consistently. It's more just consciously thinking about it.
Maintaining consistency long term, yeah, that's the challenge for us for anything we're trying to do in life, whether it's our diets or our, exercise or anything, it's hard to stay consistent at. But don't try to, what is it? Swallow the elephant hole. Just, you know, try to do small things at a time.
Small moves. I like small moves.
George Drapeau: That's true. Small moves.
Camille Rapacz: I hope you are thinking about how to be a more consistent leader after this. And if you need any help with that, you know what I'm going to say, book a free consultation. I will absolutely help you with this. If you're a leader struggling with this or who knows what else might be on your plate of things that you want to work on.
You can book a free consult with me at CamilleRapacz.com/bookacall. Or just click the link in the show notes.
That's all I have for this week and we'll be back in your ears next week or maybe we might be doing an every two week thing. I don't know. We're kind of looking at our own consistency of the podcast so we might be back in your ears next week or the following week.
See you next time.
George Drapeau: Bye.