Leaders, Be Constant

On my way into Seattle on the Sounder this morning I took the opportunity to glance over at our local mountain of fame, Mount Rainer. The light from the sun rising in the East was hitting the mountain in a way I hadn’t seen before. Seeing this put a thought into my mind; one I want to share with you now.

Regardless of the season, the type of weather, or the time of day, the mountain stands its ground. That a mountain doesn’t move isn’t a new thought, I know. Still, the connection to leadership is clear.

Like the mountain, those who care or dare to assume positions of responsibility in any organization, need to be ready to remain consistent.

Parents who vary in their parenting style – lenient one day, strict the next, raise children who never know where they stand. Team leaders who have similar practices create team members who have the same problem. At the organizational level, the same principle applies.

Leaders who desire to be a beacon for their organizations need to be consistent; consistent in their words, their actions, and their vision.

As a youth I was taught this lesson first hand by a standing US House of Representatives member from the state of Oregon, Les Aucoin. Our high school was hosting him to speak. As a student government representative I was asked to assist him while on campus. In that season there was a bill concerning capital punishment being put to the people of Oregon. The people had voted in favor of capital punishment. Yet at the national level, Mr. Aucoin, one of our local representatives, was consistently voting in opposition to this. At one point during our day together I asked him about this. I asked, As a representative of the state, shouldn’t you be representing what the people want?

I’ll never forget his polite, yet firm reply. He said, in effect, “It’s true I was elected to represent the people of this state, and when I put myself out there to do this, I was clear about my position on capital punishment and many other issues. I am not going to change my position now that I’m in office. When the time comes that the people feel someone else better represents them then that person will win the nomination, and I’ll go back to doing what I was doing before. Countless leaders have learned that attempting to serve every perspective serves no one well. I’m not going to make that mistake.”

If you are a leader, or you aspire to be one, I’m going to recommend this same approach. Maintain consistency. As you do this, others may not agree with where you stand, but they’ll know where you stand, which, in the long run, is most important.