STRATEGIC change fails without consistency—an uncompromising commitment to your stated purpose. A single inconsistent act can call your credibility into question and undermine your change effort.
Michael Canic, author of Ruthless Consistency, can help you put the odds of success in your favor. By ruthless consistency, he doesn’t mean robotic repetition. It doesn’t mean inflexible. In fact, “varied and creative are requirements of ruthless consistency, not enemies.” Our changing environment demands it. What he does mean is “the relentless alignment of intentions, decisions, and actions.”
Ruthless consistency means that everything you do—as varied and creative as it might be—is consistently aligned with your purpose, your intentions.
The foundation of ruthless consistency begins with three principles. First, “what matters more than anything you do is everything you do.” Everything you do must be aligned with the direction you want to go to. That involves doing three things: develop the right focus, create the right environment, and build the right team.
“Developing the right focus means identifying and articulating why your organization must change, what you intend to achieve, and how you intend to achieve it. Creating the right environment means aligning every organizational touchpoint, so that your team can and will execute on the right focus. Building the right team means securing the right collection of talent to make it happen.” Canic devotes a section of the book to each ingredient.
The second principle is “what you do is not as important as what your people experience.” We naturally look at things from our own perspective, but as leaders, we need to flip that around. “What matters is what they perceive, what they believe, and how they feel.” Canic adds, “It’s not about you. It’s through you. What you do is validated only by what they experience and, as a consequence, what they do.”
For people to do what you need them to do and perform at their best, first, you have to understand their perspective. Ultimately, this is about empathy. Seeing through their eyes. Thinking through their minds. Feeling with their hearts. And then taking the right actions.
The third principle is “you’re not as committed as you need to be…yet.” What does it take to achieve the result you need, and are you willing to do what it takes to get there?
Commitment is best summed up by what I heard a fellow football coach said many years ago: There’s a big difference between the will to win and the will to do what it takes to win. Exactly. And you’d better understand that difference. Many of us have the will to win. We love the feeling of winning. We want to be around winners. But do we have the will to do what it takes to win?
What can hold you back as a leader from ruthless consistency? Complacency, distractability, and ego.
The first enemy you must defeat is complacency. Are you constantly looking forward? Is your work your passion? Are you immersed in it? People who don’t just achieve success but sustain success have an inspiring next goal.
Are you passively distractable, your attention is easily diverted, or actively distractable, you choose to divert your attention when warranted?
Recognizing team members’ accomplishments strengthens your credibility. It sends a message that you value them and that you’re secure enough to surround yourself with strong talent. Remember, like any leader, you don’t create success. You create the conditions that enable your team to be successful.