Be Consistent

Consistency. When it comes to building brand trust, I’m not sure there is a more important concept than consistency.

How many times have you heard someone mention that a business used to be great, but just isn’t the same anymore? There was a restaurant near us that had good food, but terribly inconsistent service. It’s not there anymore and a new restaurant is taking over the space.

One of the reasons that Starbucks, McDonalds, and others have expanded so far, so fast is the experience is basically the same whether you are in New York City; Mayfield, KY; or Lima, Peru. Consistency.

In life, as well as in leadership, the importance of consistency cannot be overemphasized. It’s all about building trust. We have all had the experience of dealing with a person who talks big and has grand plans, but rarely follows through with anything. You likely have a name and/or face in mind right now.

The people we trust the most are the ones who are consistent. Their words and their actions match up. They follow through.

There is an old saying, “My word is my bond.” To be completely honest, it seems we have lost that concept. It was more generally true at one time than it is now. We now take most things people say with the more cynical mindset of “I’ll believe it when I see it,” or, “Time will tell.”

What was once more common is now fairly uncommon. Want to stand out? Be consistent with your words and actions. So many people are looking for the key to success. Consistency is one. When you build trust with people, it opens up all kinds of new doors and opportunities.

This takes time. Consistency doesn’t just happen and it isn’t recognized in a single meeting. It isn’t flashy and probably doesn’t garner headlines. It’s hard work. It takes intentionality. Usually when you see someone who is an “overnight success,” they are not. Most likely, those “overnight successes” have spent years living consistent lives matching their words and actions.

Let’s hit some tips on consistency in words and actions…

Make honesty a virtue.

Sounds obvious right? Unfortunately, honesty isn’t so automatic. We need to make honesty a core part of who we are. We need to value honesty to the point that it pains us to say one thing and do another. As the old saying goes, “Always tell the truth and you don’t have to worry about remembering what you said to whom.”

Quite simply, never promise something you won’t do.

Say what you mean and mean what you say.

If you say something is important, then follow through and live it out.

Becoming known as a person of your word will set you apart. It will open new doors. It does take time.

Know your guiding values.

Countless leaders and businesses are derailed because they don’t have set principles and values that they actually follow.

There is little worse than a company who says they value customers, but the experience shows they clearly do not.

If those values are not defined clearly and concisely, neither you nor your company can actually follow them. There is an old preacher saying, “if it’s hazy in the pulpit, it’s foggy in the seats.”

Simply put, if the leaders can’t define what is important, the frontline worker definitely cannot. If the leader is even a little ambiguous, then it is not clear to the worker or the customer.

Define what is important. Clarify it. Then communicate it over and over and over.

Aggressively guard your values. If they aren’t lived out, they aren’t important.

Underpromise and overdeliver.

How many people do you know make constant promises but rarely follow through? It’s better to not make the promise in the first place and yet act then it is to make the promise and not act. Only promise what you know you can deliver and never promise what you can’t or won’t actually deliver.

We too often say what we think will make us look good or feel important in a moment. Yet, how much better is it to be well thought of in the long run and not just a moment? Consistency, follow through, trust, these things bring respect.

Always do more than you said you would do and you will build a level of trust and credibility that is quite uncommon.

Brands that do this well succeed.

The most profitable per store fast food chain way over-delivers on the experience of a quick affordable meal. At $3.2 million average per store, Chick-Fil-A more than doubles Wendy’s and is 30% more than McDonald’s. (FDF)

Think before you speak.

I know, your mom probably told you this. And, it’s great advice.

We are too quick to speak too often. If we slow down and think through what we are about to say, we are less likely to promise or say something in a moment that we will not live up to later.

This also helps us to not speaking out of emotion. Our immediate emotional reaction is not always our best self. When we take a moment and give ourselves time to respond, it is usually better.

How often do you walk away from a situation and wish you had said something else or not said something?

Slow down and take time and you may find yourself having less of those “I should have…” moments.

It’s much easier to remain consistent if you don’t speak out of emotion. A big part of building trust comes as people know you are going to respond to things thoughtfully and consistently.

Record your promises.

Simple. If you promise it, make a record of it. Whether this is putting an appointment in your calendar or adding a task to your to do list or sending a text right then. Whatever it is, do something immediately that will help you keep track and follow through. Many missed promises happen simply because they are forgotten.

I recently heard of a CEO that will never conduct a meeting without his assistant there to record whatever promises or new things he set forth. He is the type who brainstorms and thinks out loud and it often comes across as hard promises.So, he has his assistant read off all the promises at the end of the meeting to make sure they are all things he can actually commit to. If there is something he can not commit to, he is still in the meeting with those he said it to and can now correct or reframe as needed. This way it never becomes an unmet expectation. His process helps him maintain consistency and build trust.

Whatever works for you, make it work. This way you won’t simply forget what you have promised and so lose credibility and trust.

Don’t change without reason.

This one is huge! Too many organizations change too much too quickly just because the wind is blowing in a new thing today. Pick a lane and stay there.

Yes, adapt. Yes, change with good reason. No, don’t change just because.

Consistency comes from making change intentionally and with purpose. The change needs to be made based on a core fundamental. It needs to advance the cause.

In the organization I work in, we have core values of alignment and collaboration. We are currently in the process of changing our structure to handle the rapid growth we are experiencing. As we make these changes, we are using these two core values to drive and frame the changes. We aren’t changing just to change, we are changing because staying consistent with our values of alignment and collaboration requires us to change. If we don’t change, we will not be aligned across our organization and we will hinder effective collaboration.

Change is a must. Change must also be intentional and advance the values and purpose of the organization.

Too much change too fast for no compelling reason leaves people feeling insecure and confused. Change not consistently communicated well leaves people feeling devalued and used.

Consistency requires proper communication, intentionality, and clarity of purpose.

Consistency is maintained when words, actions, and stated values all match.

Consistency builds trust.

 

Next week, we will look at dealing with an inconsistent leader.