When did NO become code for YES? And when did YES mean NO?

Over the past several weeks I have witnessed four separate occasions with four separate groups of parents and children where in order to have the child act in accordance with the parents wishes, the parent made a game of reverse psychology whereby the child was celebrated and reward for doing the complete opposite of what the parent had originally asked for. It goes something like this:

Parent: “Johnny, Grandma is here. Come give her a hug.

Johnny: “NO!”

Parent: “Johnny, don’t you give Grandma a hug.”

(at this point little Johnny’s eyes light up and a smile appears on his face as he starts to approach Grandma)

Parent (with a big smile to match Johnny’s): “Oh no you don’t Johnny, don’t give Grandma hug! Don’t you dare!”

Johnny runs exuberantly into Grandma’s arms and everyone cheers and makes a fuss over him. Everyone is happy!

It seems to me the message to little Johnny is, don’t do what I say and we will celebrate you. Which is why Johnny was thoroughly confused and very upset an hour later when he was sent to his room for throwing a ball that his Father asked him not to.

ConfusedPoor kid. He is getting mixed messaging. There is no consistency. What chance does he have?

These situations got me thinking about the importance of consistency in leadership. And hey, isn’t being a parent the ultimate leadership test?

How many companies do you know that identify “who they are” by plastering their vision and values all over the office walls to inspire its employees. Yet, the people who are promoted, recognized and rewarded are those who act opposite to the values.

For example, a call center which values customer service but penalizes an employee if they take “too long” with a customer.

That does not seem right? Seems a little inconsistent don’t ya think?

Consistency is an easy concept to understand, yet more difficult to put into practice. Consistency is one of those things, which requires focus, effort and patience – in other words, you can’t get an app for it. You have to work at.

Aristotle once said; “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” As a leader one of the best things you can offer your people is consistency. When you consistently align your actions with your words, people develop a strong bond of trust with you and collectively you will move mountains.

How consistent are you as a leader?