(The 1998 independent romantic comedy movie Next Stop Wonderland features hapless male dates trying to impress the female lead by talking authoritatively about Emerson’s view of consistency. Yet they badly butcher the quote. For the record, Emerson wrote, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.”)
Yet, we crave consistency from others. We want their words and actions to match so we can believe them and trust them.
When actions differ from the words, we’re not sure what to believe, although generally words talk louder than words.
Consistency is a big issue this time of year. Many of us are launching 2012 business plans, making new personal goals for the year, committing to new resolutions, and doing other things to get a fresh start on what we want to achieve this year.
Easier said than done. As a co-worker used to say, the road from “said” to “done” is long and windy with many detours. (And that’s even avoiding the whole discussion as to whether new year’s resolutions are worth the bother.)
For example, take one of my coaching clients, who gave me permission to tell this story. She’s an enlightened individual with a good working relationship with her boss.
She thought they were “on the same page” when it came to defining the top seven critical skills key to her job. Yet, when they compared their lists, after taking part in a formal assessment, they discovered that they had agreed on only two of the seven. Yes five—71%—were different, as shown here. Talk about out of alignment!
|Facilitates team success||Facilitates team success|
|Achieves results||Achieves results|
|Processes information||Adjusts to circumstances|
|Instills trust||Provides direction|
|Thinks creatively||Communicates effectively|
|Works competently||Displays commitment|
As we talked about the assessment exercise, we discussed how her boss focused on the outcomes he wanted. By contrast, she was more concerned with process. She was zeroing in on how she did her work, not what results she achieved. A big a-ha! Results matter!
From a consistency standpoint, even if she acts consistently in her mind, her boss could view her actions as being inconsistent with his expectations. So rather than working together as a tightly-knit team, they could be more like two ships passing in the night.
Consistency starts inside us. We first need to be consistent with ourselves about our goals, plans and skill sets. We then need to articulate them to others and have a conversation.
That conversation will help get the ever-so-critical yet elusive alignment and then commitment. From there we can make sure we’re working together and moving in the right direction on the same path toward the same destination.
Otherwise, how can we mobilize others, much less ourselves, on the right path to change?
To what extent do you have consistency around your 2012 plans? And to what extent are the plans aligned with the plans of your boss, team members and other key stakeholders? And to what extent are you focused on results?
And last and least, to what extent do you desire more serious American literature for the year? I admit I’m getting my fill….