Leadership: Change vs Inconsistency
by Kate Nasser | 9 Comments »
Leadership is about change. We lead to create the future not to maintain the status quo. One trap that can detour success is confusion about change vs inconsistency.
Those who resist change will often mislabel change as fickleness and inconsistency. Knowing the true difference between change and inconsistency can avert this detour and sustain the momentum of change.
Change image by MMcDonough and Inconsistency image by Marco Buonvino via Flickr Creative Commons licenses.
Let’s Compare Change vs Inconsistency.
Leading change includes …
It’s not mucking about in the dark. It is preceded by exploration and some determination of the new picture.
It’s not random. It has a goal.
It doesn’t swirl around endlessly. It moves forward.
It’s not just words. It pulses with action.
It doesn’t contradict itself. It corrects missteps and gets back on course.
Engagement with expectations.
True change leaders engage everyone with expectations of involvement. They don’t allow resistors to create stagnation w/ claims of inconsistency.
Inconsistency is characterized by …
Different messages about the same situation.
This inconsistency creates the swirl of inaction instead of the pulse of action.
With inconsistency, the goals constantly change within a very short timeframe. With change, there is evolution over time toward a goal.
Inconsistency leaves people in a fog. Change sheds light as it evolves.
What truly distinguishes change vs inconsistency? Clear vision and communication!
Clear consistent messages about the change reassure those who must make the change happen. Clear vision & communication help everyone to overcome the comfort of habit and the status quo. It gives them perspective on the skills they must develop to help create and live in the new world.
As leaders, we must distinguish change vs inconsistency so that demands for consistency don’t mistakenly keep us in the status quo. Consistency of vision, clarity of communication, and integrity of character can lead all through the tough times of change.
Be ready when the change resistors raise the flag of inconsistency. Ensure that their resistance doesn’t hijack the momentum of change or detour success.
Reinforce that consistency (of quality) is not the same as constancy — things remaining the same. Underscore the vision, clarify the message, and continue moving forward!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™
Related Post: Leaders, Is the Beloved Bully of Habit Stopping Change?
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Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.
Thanks for making these important distinctions. It is true that one can often mask as the other, resulting in confusing for all parties. This post helps leaders get clear on what they need to do to stay clear and move forward, and teammates to discriminate between waffling leadership and the real deal.
Thank you Blair. The distinction was very important in so many situations I witnessed (and worked on), I wanted to share it with others.
Very grateful for your contribution here.
Great advice, Kate. In my experience, that point about being ready for the change resistors who raise the flag of inconsistency is a very important one to take on. There are times, for example, when people do find something intrinsically contradictory in the content of process of the change that the leaders have not thought about, or haven’t thought about empathically. Any change leader can be more effective by asking where those contradictions are for people and by being willing to explore them, actively welcoming the challenging thoughts that might come forward (even those that are more crudely expressed as accusations of hypocrisy). The leaders can then respond, “We heard you,” and take appropriate action.
The most effective leaders, however, are prepared to bring those sensitive points up themselves as part of the dialogue about change with staff in the beginning. It may not be that there are “change resistors” so much as people who simply do not understand how the parts fit together, and who are scared and wondering if the leaders get it themselves. If the leaders cannot explain the apparent contradiction (e.g., I know an organization that is doing both lean and consultant based efficiency analysis at the same time) without becoming personally embarrassed or defensive or reading from a script someone else has written for them, then they can expect the resistance of all who are actually trying to help the organization and the leaders themselves operate in an aligned way.
The distinction you draw is such an important one for leaders to understand. I can move forward on an evident road that has curves and even hairpin turns, but I cannot budge if the idea is to simply jump on a horse “and ride off in all directions at once.”
All the best!
Thank you Dan … you always bring extra insight to every post. Clarity, empathy, connection, and inspiration go together when leading change!
I have actually witnessed change resistors who do understand and want to stop the change. They aren’t the majority yet they can have a major impact on the outcome if left to obstruct the path.
Warmest thanks for all you add,
Hi, Kate – nicely stated.
I like your detailed distinctions between true change and inconsistent actions. As leaders, we need to clearly state the reasons and motivations for our decisions and actions. Whenever we are unable to do that comfortably, I believe we are stumbling and that is when the accusations of inconsistency carry weight.
Very true John. When we as leaders”stumble around” as you say, the accusations of inconsistency carry weight — and in those cases can bring clarity if we pause, clarify, and re-inspire all.
Thank you for weighing in on this post!
Hi Kate, really enjoyed the post (and yes, I did read it all before tweeting!) 🙂
I look at change as being dynamic while inconsistency is stagnate
Dynamic it is Carl. Inconsistency does keep people in the status quo and unfortunately in confusion as well.
Thank you so much for contributing to this discussion.
Thank you Dan! It is a topic I have witnessed over and over as a consultant and wanted to bring that experience to blogging table. I appreciate your feedback.