You probably think you’re pretty predictable as a leader. Your team clearly knows your standards and expectations. They know how you’ll behave in pretty much any leadership situation. That predictability gives them comfort and makes them confident in your leadership.
I ask a poll question on SmartBrief on Leadership every week (and if you don’t subscribe to SmartBrief, you’re missing out so go sign up here now… go on… I’ll wait until you get back…). In two recent polls I asked readers how predictable they thought they were as leaders. The question was “How predictable is your leadership style?” in both cases.
When asked about their own style, people responded like this:
– My team always knows what to expect from me and how I lead. 29.15%
– Most of the time I’m predictable but I occasionally surprise people. 68.37%
– I’m mostly unpredictable and my team reacts to my shifts in style. 0.58%
– I’m completely unpredictable and my style is not clear to most others. 1.90%
When asked the same question about their bosses, people responded like this. For ease of doing math, I’ve included the variance between responses in the two polls in parentheses after the values:
How predictable is your boss’s leadership style?
– I always know what to expect from my boss and how he/she leads. 22.36% (-6.79)
– He/she is predictable most of the time but occasionally surprises me. 53.21% (-15.16)
– My boss is mostly unpredictable, and I react to his/her shifting style. 15.77% (+15.19)
– My boss is completely unpredictable, and his/her style is not clear to me. 8.67% (+6.77)
Wow. Big shift in terms of how predictable people think they are versus how predictable they find their bosses to be (notice all those variances move in the wrong direction – toward unpredictability). For you visual learners out there, here’s what those responses look like:
So it would seem we find ourselves much more predictable than we find our bosses. Here’s the rub: YOU’RE PROBABLY SOMEBODY’S BOSS AND THEY DON’T THINK YOU’RE VERY PREDICTABLE!
Predictability equals productivity. If your people are spending time and energy worrying about what you’re going to do and how you’re going to lead, they’re not spending time and energy on their work. No matter how predictable you think you are, what really matters is how predictable your people think you are.
My recommendation: articulate your leadership philosophy and standards clearly and concisely. I believe doing so is such a powerful tool that I’ve written an entire book on the topic of clear leadership philosophies – One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (you can get a discounted pre-sale copy on Amazon – just CLICK HERE). You MUST articulate who you are and what you stand for as a leader if you expect your people to understand you, trust you, and follow you.
Don’t accept the mediocrity of being the unpredictable leader. Invest the time and energy required to become more predictable. Sit down and write your leadership philosophy and standards. Distribute it and discuss it with your teams. If you’re not sure how to do that, read some of the posts on this blog about leadership philosophies and grab a copy of the book. You and your team will be glad you did!
– Grab a pre-sale copy of my upcoming book One Piece of Paper. CLICK HERE to get yours!