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Some boss advice on the most important leadership skill you can have

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By Jason Wyatt, Managing Director Marketplacer

“Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.”, Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen, aka The Boss, has been making music now for more than five decades. He’s run a pretty tight ship over that time with his E Street Band and as a solo artist. Plenty of his contemporaries have dropped by the wayside. He’s still going strong. Connecting with his audience, making great music. He’s been consistent all the way.

I think the most important skill behind any leader in any business, including the music business, is consistency. The minute you jump around in anything you do in life, your message becomes hazy and people don’t know how to behave around you. I think as you get more and more team members, and you grow and scale your businesses, consistency becomes more and more important.

I’ll give you a prime example. If you walk past someone every single morning and you say, “Hello”, the day you don’t say hello, that person says to you, “What’s going on? Why didn’t he say hello to me?”. As leaders, that self-awareness around that level of consistency and your behaviours actually filters right down your organisation.

It’s exactly the same for your customers.

If as a retailer you have been consistently pushing a certain line of products, and have invested in making the brand recognition engendered by that product part of your message to customers, but then ditch that line in favour of something categorically different, you risk alienating customers because of this inconsistency.

The line of products you have historically promoted have been associated with a particular virtue, for example, safety. If you have wrapped your marketing message in the flag of this virtue (safety) but then suddenly drop that and start extolling the virtue of excitement and adventure, your customers are going to start wondering what it is you stand for.

It’s that hang on, I thought you were about this factor. It produces a cognitive dissonance about your message and makes customers second guess what they are getting.

This is as applicable to your management style as well. Inconsistency in message creates grey areas. Grey areas are the breeding ground for misunderstandings, communication failures and dashed expectations.

That word consistency is something we drive absolutely home through our business.

Consistency demands rigour. The processes and practices you put in place need to have been thought through, so that they are logical, rational, and understandable. That’s not always easy, and sometimes requires in-depth thought and modelling on what the ramifications and implications are of the positions and policies you hold.

Nothing disappoints customers more than when a business back pedals out of a poorly conceived promise. You lose that customer because you failed to show consistency, explicitly manifested by the fact you couldn’t keep a promise you made to them. You did not live up to expectations.

Nothing deflates employees more than when they are told one thing but held to account for something else entirely. It’s about having consistency in setting expectations, accountabilities, and standards for all your key stakeholders.

We find consistency is the glue that holds so much together in our business; whether it’s our customers and the service we provide them; or the expectations and accountability of every single team member from customer service to development, through to sales, through to marketing.

Once people have consistency, they know what they’re accountable for, what is expected of them. That provides a solid foundation for creating a positive and productive work environment.

Consistency gives people the level of reassurance they require to get on with things without having to second-guess rules and expectations. It’s when people start having fun. When we can get everybody engaged, we can let everybody have wins along the way, we can make them feel incredibly valued in their journey. That’s when we really find that we get results.


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