When Leadership Isn’t Consistent

Many of us have had the experience of dealing with an inconsistent leader. It is frustrating to say the least.

In our last post, we looked at developing consistency in ourselves and organizations. In this post we will look at how to deal with a leader or organization that is inconsistent.

Too often we think that we can’t change culture or make improvements if we are not “in charge.” This simply is not true. No matter where we are on an org chart, we can make a real difference and even improve overall culture and conditions. The key to leadership is never about position or title, it is always about influence. Influence is available to anyone. Influence is earned.

If you have a leader over you or your organization is inconsistent here are some things you can do to help keep your sanity.


Seems obvious or maybe impossible. Just because the situation around you is not consistent, does not mean you have to fall into the same pattern. In fact, it might be all the more reason for you to be the source of consistency.

Your consistency will influence others. At the very least, it won’t add to the chaos.

By being as consistent as you can you will bring an element of peace and stability. You will also differentiate yourself. Effective leadership is not the norm. Someone with the strength and the will to stand up and be different will always be noticed. The best way to affect change is to be the one to lead it. You don’t have to have the title the leader in order to lead.

Be consistent even when your leader and organization are not.


One of the worst things about inconsistency is the ambiguity that comes with it. As the employee or follower of an inconsistent leader, this is absolutely frustrating.

Instead of sitting idly by as a victim to it, ask questions for clarity.

With that, let me add that asking direct clear questions can be done very respectfully, and should be.

A lot of the time that there is inconsistency, it stems from a lack of intentionality and/or awareness. Not all inconsistent leaders are incompetent or wishy washy. Sometimes they have just fallen into the trap of reaction. They react in the moment to the emotions and felt urgency and these change too easily.

Not being intentional with values and defining the important lead to inconsistency. So, ask.

Ask detailed and specific questions that will bring clarity. Sometimes, just asking the right questions can bring change. Good questions will always bring at least some clarity.


By using written communication, it takes away the ambiguity of verbal statements with no trail. When clarity is needed, getting things in writing is a huge step forward and it makes follow up and even accountability so much easier.

Whatever the tool, from text to email to a specific program or app, getting clarity and communication in writing makes things very clear. This can even be done after a verbal conversation. It can be a very good thing to follow-up with written communication that summarizes what you took away from the conversation. When framed as clarity and even a question, it is respectful and gives the opportunity for clearing up any difference in expectation and perception.

There are times that inconsistency is simply a result of poor communication between two people who walk away with very different understanding of the conversation. Putting the follow-up in a written form of communication solidifies and clears things up.

Those are some TO DO’s, here are a few things to NOT do.


Very little good every comes from complaining and criticism. Yes, constructive criticism can be very productive, but most criticism is not productive or helpful. Most criticism is destructive.

Complaints and criticism generally drain the energy of the leader and organization. These do not add positive energy. Positive change rarely happens from a critical and complaining mindset.

One of three things happens when someone is complaining and critical.

  1. The leader/organization reacts out of fear and emotion and adds to the inconsistency.
  2. The leader and others become dismissive of the complainer and ignore them. This leads to masking the real problem by focusing on the negative energy of one or a few.
  3. The complaining/critical tone takes root and pervades the whole organization creating a toxic and unhealthy environment which over time will destroy the organization.


If what you are a part of matters, then strive to make it effective. If it doesn’t matter, leave and find something that does matter to you. You should have a sense of purpose and value in what you spend your time doing. Your value doesn’t come from you job, but you should feel that what you are doing does matter and has value.

Now, we don’t all have to be at these big mission focused jobs because those are limited in scope. However, most every job and organization has a real value and purpose to society and even humanity. Whether cleaning, serving food, building, maintaining property, or selling goods; these all bring a value and opportunity to add to society as a whole and to people as individuals.

It’s good to care. It’s good to strive to improve yourself and those around you. It’s good to seek out consistency and value.

Don’t just give up and stop caring. Work to make a difference or go someplace where you can.


It is always the wrong thing to do nothing. By doing nothing, we actually become part of the problem. When we do nothing, we are just as complicit in the inconsistency.

When we do nothing, we move ourselves into the realm of victim of circumstance. At this point we are at the mercy of what is happening to us like a rudderless, powerless raft in a storm.

You can make a difference. You can influence your organization. With or without a title. Authority comes from the organization. Leadership comes from you.

Authority is given. Influence is earned.


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