"He has such vision!"
"She's the most creative leader I know!"
"He is simply the smartest candidate in the mix!"
No, these are not accolades that others have said about me but they are the kinds of lines that we hear about famous leaders. Whether in the Wall Street Journal, on a popular blog like CNET or in watercooler chit-chat, it seems like leaders get more of of the "big" qualities.
I mean, after all, the famous leaders must be equipped with famous qualities like vision, creativity and brains faster than that of Newt Gingrich. (sorry, couldn't resist)
These amazing qualities are truly that, amazing, but most of the time, most of us practice a more subtle art of putting silent strengths to work.
I think of Sister Percylee Hart, a nun who leads a Catholic high school here in New Jersey. Sister isn't a fancy leader who has built a school around her own personality. Rather, she has put together a string of hits that have spanned the course of several decades. One decade it had to do with busing and another it had to do with laptop computers.
In between her brilliant ideas have been many quiet and subtle days. Some have said that her biggest strength is one that few appreciate- her consistency. Consistency, it turns out is as important as being creative or smart.
Without consistency, a great idea can't be implemented.
Without consistency, a new hire can't be supported week by week.
Consistency has been lauded by Jim Collins in his description of "Level 5 Leadership" in Good to Great. Here is a collection of audio clips from Collins talking about consistency and other quiet strengths. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking also promotes consistency as opposed to brilliance, vision or innovation.
So how can you be more consistent in any given week? This will vary for each person but here are but a few suggestions:
- Wake up at the same time each day
- Get the same amount of sleep each night
- Eat the same breakfast each day
- Order the same food from your favorite restaurant each time
- Pray at the same time each day
- Eat dinner in about the same time window each night
- Put your keys in the same spot when you arrive home each night
- Leave your desk neat and clean when you leave each day
- Return phone calls at the same time each day
Like you, I'm a work in progress in the consistency category but I'm working on it. The more consistent you are, the less you friction you have on your productivity.
As we head into another week, which quiet strength can you explore and enjoy? If consistency is one of them, you may not be alone.