Posts Tagged ‘consistency’

Daddy as a little boyMy dad was the first quintessential leader I encountered in life. He wasn’t perfect – none of us are – but who he was and how he lived his life was anchored to the principles of quintessential leadership.

In the years since Daddy’s death in 1998, I’ve met and or reconnected with many people who knew my dad well and one of the things I’ve consistently heard about him was that he was a good man, a kind man, and a gentle man with an open heart ready to serve and open ears and time ready to listen. (more…)

Anakin Skywalker Before He Became Darth Vader

With the release of Episode VII: The Force Awakens on December 17, 2015, it is a good time to consider, from a quintessential leader perspective, how Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader.

It is also a good time to reflect on how many of the same traits that led Anakin Skywalker down the path of unquintessential leadership are shared, in some measure, by his son, Luke Skywalker, and how those may affect what happens as this Star Wars trilogy unfolds. (more…)

Contract/temporary employee hiring models look good in the short term, but cost big in the long termMany organizations have adopted a rental model in filling professional positions that require extensive knowledge and experience, as well as in-depth training to get up to speed on the particular projects that these contract/temporary professionals will be working to complete.

The current model of employment looks more like an inventory model (just-in-time) than a well-thought-out business model. It is certainly not a quintessential leader model.

The pros look attractive to organizations from a short-sighted upfront monetary point of view.

Organizations don’t have to deal with the financial and physical overhead of a competitive salary, benefits, a permanent workspace and equipment, and payroll costs (most contract/temporary employees are either paid through a staffing agency that handles payroll or via a 1099 that makes the employee responsible for their own taxes at the end of the year) that a full-time employee incurs.

Profits are a short-term goal, but they won't stay if the infrastructure - including knowledgeable, high-performing employees - are in placeSo, in the short-term, organizations, at least on paper, look like they’re saving a lot of money using contract/temporary employees. Profits are higher. The board of directors is happy. The shareholders are happy. The executive officers are happy.

But the cons, which affect the long run, will eventually make everybody unhappy, and if this current trend lasts several decades, many of these organizations will not exist.

Why?

Whether an organization hires a permanent employee or a contract/temporary employee, the same upfront investments have to be made. Because they don’t get translated in monetary terms, they don’t get factored into the cost of having a predominantly constantly-changing contract/temporary workforce.

One of those upfront investments is training. For professional positions, the training can be quite extensive (or it should be – too often the training is haphazard and poor, with the contract/temporary employees thrown in and left to fend for themselves, which causes delays, errors, missed deadlines, and project failures).

Generally, organizations do the same kinds of projects over and over. The details change, but the scope and type of projects is the same.

Typically, contract/temporary employees are hired for a single project and then they are gone and all the knowledge and training they have goes with them.

This means a new batch of contract/temporary employees must be hired for the next project and the same investment in training made all over again.

Only to walk out the door when the project is over, meaning this cycle happens over and over and over again.

Quality is sacrificed with the professional contract/temporary employee model.This is an undocumented cost, but it is huge in the long run. Projects are affected dramatically in terms of productivity and milestone/deadline timeliness, as well as in terms of quality of service.

The net effect is the projects don’t get completed on time, they don’t have a consistent standard of quality, and customers end up unhappy because they don’t get what they paid for.

Customer satisfaction will be eroded by a revolving door of temporary/contract professional writers.This con is lost business both in existing customers who go elsewhere and new customers who don’t show up because they’ve heard quality and service is inconsistent at best and bad at worst.

The long-term con of hiring contract/temporary employees on a project basis instead of hiring full-time, permanent employees is that eventually there will be no customers and the organization will be forced to close.

The secondary long-term impact (con) of an organization closing is that everyone who is a full-time, permanent employee, from the corner offices to the cubes, will no longer have a job. Additionally, shareholders will lose their investments. And the board of directors won’t have anybody to direct.

Quintessential leaders understand that people – not money or things – are an organization’s most valuable resource. They can – and will – make or break an organization.

Therefore, quintessential leaders know people are the most important investment that an organization can make in the long run, so they invest in full-time permanent professional employees to ensure that a quality and lasting infrastructure is in place to provide consistent, quality, and constantly-increased value-added products and services to existing and new customers.

Money comes and goes. Things work and then they don’t. These can be easily and seamlessly addressed and replaced with very little impact on operations.

However, it doesn’t work that way with people.

People alone can increase the worth, the quality, the reputation of an organization. People have experience and knowledge and are able to add to those to bring even more worth to an organization.

When people are a revolving-door commodity, as in the case of most organizations now, increased experience and knowledge walk out with each project, and each next project is basically like starting all over again.

But this cycle gets repeated again and again with the contract/temporary professional employee hiring model.

It makes no sense to use an inventory model as a business model, especially when the cons (and actual costs) far outweigh the pros in the long run.

It is more evidence that there are very few quintessential leaders in decision-making positions in most organizations.

Because if there were, we would not see the contract/temporary professional employee model that most organizations are using, because they’d have the vision to realize what the long-term costs and outcomes would be.

What kind of professional employee model do you and your organization use?

Do you know the investment costs and the long-term costs of the model you use?

Is talent, knowledge, and experience walking out the door every time projects are completed?

It’s time to carefully consider these things.

How are we doing? 

 

 

the quintessential leader building trust and being trust worthy book

In the first post of this series, the excerpt from chapter 1 included a list of all the components we must develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy.

In the subsequent chapter excerpts detailing the components we need to have and develop to build trust and be trustworthy, chapter 2 discusses honesty, chapter 3 discusses integrity, and chapter 4 discusses fairness, chapter 5 discusses righting wrongs, and chapter 6 discusses accountability.

This post, which includes an excerpt from chapter 7, discusses the component of consistency that builds trust and makes us trustworthy.

Being consistent in our lives as humans is often very difficult. The reasons for this difficulty are quite simple:

  • Our conduct is a reflection of our feelings, which are constantly changing, instead of our thinking, which is – or should be – more unchangeable in all the things and ways that matter
  • We do not have a solid foundation and core of principles, absolute right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, and good and bad that we adhere to ourselves and apply equally to everything and everyone else in our lives without exception

Inconsistency is extremely damaging in every way.

It creates instability, unreliability, fear, reluctance, malaise, disenfranchisement, alienation, and excessively-high stress levels.

Inconsistency completely inhibits the ability to plan, to project, and to grow. It also prevents teams from developing and reaching their potential and will eventually lead to high attrition rates. 

And, yet, consistency is impossible to find in many people who are leadership positions today. Randomness and chaos seem to rule every corner of the world and that is a big contributor to the prevalent lack of trust in and untrustworthiness of the majority of people who are in leadership positions now.

Building trust and being trustworthy is an integrated trait of quintessential leaders.

It is also an integrated trait that all of us – because each and every one of us leads at least one team, small or large, of people in our lives – need to develop and have as part of the core of who we are and what we are. In essence, this trait is at the center of exemplary character and conduct, and none of us should settle for anything less than this in ourselves and others.

Unfortunately, most of us settle for less. A lot less. In ourselves. In others. 

The majority of people in leadership positions today are not trust builders and they are not trustworthy. Many of us, frankly, are also not trust builders and trustworthy.

We live in a world that with no moral code as its foundation that expects trust to be non-existent or broken. Look around. It’s everywhere, including, in many cases, very close to you.

And society has become so accustomed to this that it glorifies it instead of condemning it.

Politicians who lie routinely, who line their pockets with money and perks while making decisions that hurt and destroy the people they are supposed to represent, who cheat on their wives because they can.

Arts and sports celebrities who have no regard for faithfulness to their spouses, who live hedonistic lifestyles that destroy their families, the people around them, and, eventually their lives.

Religious leaders who cheat on their wives, who cheat on their taxes, and who scam their congregations both in how they deceitfully handle the word of God and in coercive and corrupt financial matters, acquiring wealth and power in the process.

Business leaders who destroy millions of lives by deceit, fraud, and illegal actions that result in their employees and customers losing everything while they escape any kind of punitive action and instead reap obscene profits and end their tenures – only to go to another financially lucrative position – with golden parachutes that are equally obscene.

And we, as individual leaders for our teams, who cheat on our taxes, who are routinely dishonest with the children (our own and others) and other people entrusted to us, who routinely steal things from our workplaces (you most likely didn’t pay for that pen you’re using at work, so it doesn’t belong to you), who routinely break traffic laws, who will walk out of stores with something we were not charged for and never think twice about it, who will take extra money that we’re not owed in financial transactions without blinking an eye, who cheat on our spouses, who marry until “divorce do us part,” and who, as a course of habit, break confidences of family and friends, gossip about family and friends behind their backs, and destroy reputations in the process.

Maybe we haven’t thought about building trust and being trustworthy at this kind of nitty gritty level.

But until we do – and we develop and have this trait as the core of who and what we are – we will not build trust and we will not be trustworthy. And we will not be quintessential leaders.

Trust and trustworthiness is probably the single most important trait we can possess. And it is also the most fragile.

It can take a long time to build and be, but it can be broken irreparably in a single second.

Therefore, this is a lifetime work on and in ourselves that we must commit to making an integral part of our character by continually developing it, maintaining it, and growing it. 

This goal should be our goal.

But it requires courage. It requires diligence. It requires vigilance. It requires continual self-examination. It requires continual change. It requires the ability to, much of the time, stand alone to maintain.

It is not for the faint-hearted. It is not for the vacillators. It is not for the crowd-pleasers. It is not for the pretenders. It is not for the wannabes. It is not for the weak.

But if you’re reading this, I know that you’re not any of those kinds of people. Those kinds of people won’t even read this because it requires time, effort, change, and commitment, and too many of us are, sadly, either just too lazy or we just don’t care. 

Building Trust and Being Trustworthy takes an in-depth look at the “this is what it looks like in practice” aspect of each of the components we need to develop and have to build trust and be trustworthy. The second chapter discusses the component of honesty in building trust and being trustworthy.

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Excerpt from”Chapter 7: The Consistency Component of Trust and Trustworthiness”

What this means in practical terms is that a quintessential leader is who he or she says he or she is and that he or she is what he or she says they believe – all the time, without exception. When we as quintessential leaders practice consistency, our teams always know what to expect and that helps to create an organized, sensible and predictable environment in which team members can operate, grow, and thrive.

When those who claim to be leaders don’t practice consistency, they become very much like Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The environment for their teams is chaotic, confusing and unpredictable and is characterized by constant fear and failure to thrive.

Consistency, like all the other components of trust and trustworthiness, is a rare commodity in any part of life today. It goes hand-in-hand with fairness and character. In society, in parenting, in politics, in religion, and in business, consistency has been replaced by expediency. The lack of consistency that overshadows humanity now is also a reflection of the “it’s all about me” mindset that seems to be the driving force in most people today.

Convictions, commitments, principles are built on foundations of sand that shift continuously (and are, therefore, broken almost as soon as they are made) depending on the situation at the moment. Most people and most people in leadership positions are more concerned about how things will effect them personally and how things look than they are about consistency, fairness, and character. 

That is a sad commentary on what we as a society have become. However, quintessential leaders don’t follow the crowd and allow society to mold and shape them (“everybody else is doing it, so it must be okay”), but instead stay on the path of building trust and being trustworthy and they exhibit consistency no matter what the situation both as leaders and examples to others. 

I was recently at a conference where I saw a lot of glaring examples of inconsistency among people in leadership positions.

But one stood out more than most of the others.

A presenter had three presentations during the conference.

In his first presentation, he made some erroneous and unsupported statements that left many of us scratching our heads.

In his second presentation, he was on target with everything and was able to fully provide support for the whole presentation. 

In his third presentation, he went back to the erroneous and unsupported statements of the first presentation and actually expanded on them.

The problem? The speaker’s second presentation completely contradicted what he said in his first and third presentations.”

Recent scientific research has revealed that the brain has a special cell – called a “grid cell” – that functions as a global positioning system (GPS), enabling us to continually know where we are in relationship to all the routes we take while physically moving about and storing those as memories that we retrieve when we traverse a route we have already traveled before.

I am not sure I have this neurological GPS grid cell. From my earliest memories, I have been prone to getting lost, not just my first time going some place, but often every time, especially if it’s a place I travel to infrequently. My lack in this area is so pronounced that – and this is rare, but it’s happened enough to give me pause – in the dark, especially, I get turned around in my own house and walk into the wrong room. 

In addition, I’m directionally-challenged. North, south, east, and west are beyond my scope of understanding in real life (I can tell you where they are on a map). If I have to point in a direction, I usually point in the wrong direction. I have to remind myself of my elementary school science that the sun rises in the east and it sets in the west so that twice a day I know where east and west are.

This directional challenge is even worse when I get directions from someone who uses north, south, east, and west as descriptors to explain how to get from point A to point B.

You know just how directionally-challenged you are when you actually prefer a perplexing propensity (probably not unique to northeast Tennessee, but I haven’t run into as much anywhere else in the country as I have here) to use non-existent landmarks and vague measurements with no road names as driving directions that might be less likely to get you lost.

Even when the directions sound like this: “you go down there (pointing in the direction you need to go), and you go past where that big ol’ tobaccer barn useta be, and then you kinda curve around a little, and then you go to the red light, and then you go right, and it’s just a little ways after that.”

So when I bought my first GPS for the car, I was elated.

It was actually very comforting and soothing for me because I tend to panic when I get lost and the fear of the uncertainty of knowing what to do next – if I stay where I am, I’m still lost, but if I move from where I am, then I may get even more lost – has been a permanent fixture of my life since the day I got my driver’s license.

Never again would I have to worry about getting lost again while driving. Because even if I had no clue where I was and where I needed to go, it did and would get me there reliably. I could trust it to navigate me correctly, no matter what.

Quintessential leaders have a similar GPS that doesn’t come pre-programmed, doesn’t depend on satellites hovering above earth’s atmosphere, and doesn’t have to worry about outages because of sunspots or solar flares.

This GPS is developed over time, the product of having an absolute moral foundation of right and wrong, adhering consistently to that absolute moral foundation of right and wrong, and having that adherence become an integral part of who we are and what we do, no matter what.

character gps system quintessential leaderThe quintessential leader’s GPS is character.

Character tells us what our position is no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, no matter who we’re with, no matter what other factors, familiar or unfamiliar, are involved. It ensures that we accurately and consistently navigate life, no matter where life takes us or what life throws at us.

But there’s always a caveat with global positioning systems that we as quintessential leaders need to be aware of, recognize, and resist.

The first time I turned my GPS on in my car, I was driving from my house to an interstate on a route that I could drive with my eyes closed. Almost as soon as I’d pulled out of my driveway, the GPS started telling me to go to a different road and take a different route to the interstate. I vividly remember arguing out loud – and with vigor – with the GPS.

“I’m not going that way. I always go this way. I know you think I ought to do something different, but I’m not going to. Enough already!”

The more I resisted going the way the GPS was telling me to go, the more it talked to me telling me I was not going the way it wanted me to go. And the more loudly I responded to it, trying to drown out the voice, trying to get it to be quiet, trying to convince it that I was right and it was wrong, it seemed the louder and more insistent it got.

Similarly, we have to be aware that we can do the same thing with our character GPS. It will always lead us and guide us the right way, but we have to be aware that we can chose to ignore it or override it or even turn it off. It won’t force us to do the right thing. That’s a choice we have to make. Every time.

Going or doing something the way we always have gone or done it may not be wrong. However, it may also not be the best way. What our character GPS does is make us actively stop and be consciously aware and thinking about that more carefully as that internal voice guides our attitudes, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our actions.

How often do we argue with our character GPS? How often do we rationalize doing something different than what it is telling us to do? How often do we make excuses for not following the directions it’s giving us? How often do we completely ignore it? How often do we just turn it off?

I know we all do at times. I know because I am guilty of having done this and doing this at times. Unfortunately, it seems that is part of being human and the struggle that humans encounter continually. Sometimes we struggle well and succeed. Other times we struggle poorly and we fail.

However, as quintessential leaders, our character global positioning systems should be already very well-developed, with updates being applied as they become available, so that, even though the struggles never go away entirely, we experience them less often and when we do experience them, we succeed much more than we fail.

In conjunction with this on-going development of our character global positioning systems, we will find that we are less apt to argue with, to rationalize around, to make excuses about, to ignore, or to completely turn them off.

Instead, we listen, we pay attention and we follow the route without deviation, without detours, and without exceptions. Every time. All the time.

Developing a character GPS takes commitment. It takes time. It takes a lot of effort. It also, often, means going completely counter to prevailing systems, ideas, methods, social norms, business norms, and life norms.

It’s important to remember that just because everybody else is doing something doesn’t mean everybody else is right.

For quintessential leaders, one of the first things we discover is that, in many cases, everybody else has settled for low standards or no standards. That’s hardly something we’d consider a worthy gauge against which to measure ourselves.

Quintessential leaders must dare to be and to do not only differently than the status quo, but also to replace it with the traits that make up our character global positioning systems: honesty, integrity, consistency, fairness, setting a higher standard, righting wrongs, accountability, sincerity, and setting boundaries.

How are we doing?

The Kindle version of  Building Trust and Being Trustworthy is now available on Amazon. You can purchase it here.