“Consistency is the only currency that matters” (Prudential Investment Managers)
There are no short cuts to great leadership – great leadership is cultivated over time.
In 1979, teenager Jadaf Payeng began planting trees on his small Northern Indian Majuli Island – it’s an action that he has repeated millions of times over the past 39 years because he wanted to save his home and village from encroaching waters from the frequently flooded Brahmaputra River which was washing more and more of his island away every year. By the time Jadaf started on his mission, Majuli had already lost nearly three quarters of its land mass. He knew that if he didn’t do something to protect it, home to over 150 000 people, it could soon be a distant memory. Selling milk from his family’s herd of cattle and buffalo to buy seed, saplings and fertilizer, Jadaf started the fight to save his island home. Although he asked the government for assistance and tried to engage the local villagers, no-one helped him. Initially, Jadaf started by planting twenty bamboo saplings on a small deserted sandbar – on their own, those saplings would have made little difference, but they, however, became the foundation of an investment that would one day pay massive dividends.
Thanks to Jadaf’s efforts, Majuli Island today has a forest that has grown exponentially. What was once an eroded wasteland is now a lush forest spanning over 1 400 acres. Jadaf’s four decade-long commitment and daily consistency has transformed Majuli Island into a more prosperous environment for plants, humans and animals – every living thing has benefitted over time.
There seems to be a yearning for leadership consistency in business – with consistency, trust develops, influence-ability is enhanced and teams become more motivated around direction and goal execution. A leader needs to be consistent in the following areas:
- Integrity – adherence to ethical and moral principles, soundness of character and honesty. Any moral deviation breaks down trust and introduces insecurity in the company. Employees need to be able to look up to a leader.
- Fairness – a leader needs to be able to treat people as individuals (maybe approaching and communicating differently with various employees in their uniqueness), but always being fair to all.
- Emotional expression – emotional intelligence needs to be applied. The expression of emotion has to be guarded, even and rational. Outbursts and emotional manipulation don’t have a place in a leader’s behaviour.
- Feedback – positive and developmental feedback should be consistent and applied to all. There should be no favourites.
- Reward and recognition – acknowledgement of a job well done, with appropriate rewards, should be applied evenly to all levels in the organisation.
- Focus – goal implementation and execution of required actions. Leaders must hold employees accountable for performance requirements.
- Presence – absent leadership produces insecurity. Leaders need to show up at work with a transformative disposition and walk the floor.
Consistency is one of the hallmarks of great leadership. Planting seeds for growth consistently amongst employees will result in a rich harvest over time. Consistency is the only currency that matters.