Category Archives: Relational Integrity

Defining Consistency

All stories communicate both obvious and less obvious (sometimes hidden) details of events and circumstances serving as the framework for the story. The same is true of both our personal and work life stories. Also real are the stories we write as leaders. Even though we are the main authors of all our individual stories, something else can be truer and more impactful to our story as experienced by others – the degree of consistency we demonstrate with what we say and do through our lives.

Before we look at this a little closer, let’s get one false idea out of the way first. Consistency does not mean perfection. Instead, the quality of living life consistently involves our intentional efforts to behave in accordance to our internal values over time regardless of the circumstances. Intentional efforts start with both an understanding of what attitudes and actions I want to define me (the result of what I value), and then making the commitment to say and do just that. As you may guess, living in this way isn’t automatic. Rather, it is a practiced ownership of my life in the presence of others. Practiced in that it is a choice I make and ownership because I’m responsible for my all my actions.

As leaders, having our life consistency defined in this manner is even more important because of our potential impact on more people. Leadership consistency creates reasonable expectations about our behaviors (attitudes, ideas, and actions) with those we lead. These expectations are co-written by others in knowing how we will respond to circumstances. Let’s be clear though – consistency is a result, a reflective mirror for others to anticipate our attitudes and actions, whether positive and building, or negative and tearing down. We may think we are consistent and well thought of by those around us, but because they have been the recipient of our collective attitudes and actions OVER time, they have their own story of who we are. Our consistency or inconsistency from their vantage point tells the more accurate picture, and as the primary author of our personal story, having this perspective from others is a gift which we get to use or discard. What we choose to do with it determines whether our consistency grows or diminishes with the corresponding impact on others.

If perfection is not possible then, what happens when I’m inconsistent? First and foremost, how we handle it will determine whether we are building and strengthening our consistency or not. How does that work? Owning without excuse that we were inconsistent with our behaviors both with ourselves and/or others reinforces our attention and value for wanting to be consistent — a truth key of “confessing”. Doing so transforms that failure into a steppingstone of growth. For those around us, humility marks our interactions, and relational respect is strengthened as we honor those we failed with the truth of confession and ownership. In that place, relational integrity is maintained, and can be continued without an experience disconnection. It also gives permission to each of us to accept support and help to become better. If practiced faithfully, our personal consistency will increase and become more a part of our everyday lives.

In contrast, ignoring and not owning our failures of inconsistent behavior blinds us to ourselves and impacts those affected in opposite ways. Mistrust results as relational integrity and connection with them is damaged, with the potential for repair harder and harder without personal ownership.  Continued reinforcement here leads to less clarity of our actual behaviors and its effect on others. Ultimately, not only does our leadership come into question, but the negative impact on those we’ve led colors their connection with us. For leaders especially, trust and value for those we lead is everything, thus consistency is critical.

Our behavioral consistency, at a fundamental level, prescribes the level of trust others will be able to have with us, either as a person and/or as a leader. It represents a purposeful direction we choose to pursue for our life over a particular state or attainment level. Failing will happen but what we do with that will dictate growth and more consistency or increased personal brokenness and less consistency.  What will our on-going story from others say about us? We get to choose.

The Reflective Pause

Do you take regular reflective pauses?

Our ability to take a pause and reflect at any point in our daily routine or crisis circumstances
serves as an impactful indicator of both a growth mindset for our journey, and an enlarging
capacity for handling complex details. The more we normalize and value this response
internally, the greater our positive effect on our spheres of influence.

What is a “reflective pause”? Simply, it is a practiced discipline of moving from reaction to
responding after a deliberate pause to examine the truthful and provable details being
encountered. Many times, reactive behaviors spring forward quickly as a release of our
emotional state in the moment. Emotions are important to process and do have a role. In and
of themselves, however, they are the least effectual reason to base our responsive behavior
upon. Instead, responses based on what is true and real in circumstances will create the
greatest opportunity for appropriate, reasonable, and potentially helpful attitudes and
behaviors that can lead to positive interactions. The ability to ascertain what is both true and
real needs some level of examination beyond the actual moment. Pausing and reflecting on
these details can provide this outlook.

Why is this quality important, especially for relational leaders? For one, a leader who values
those they lead desires to build relationship based on truth. Discovery of what is true and real is
more important than even the expression of their own perspective or opinion. Two, these same
leaders also understand that a leadership lifestyle demands personal growth as part of the
journey. Otherwise, one’s capacity to be others-centered will eventually diminish as they fight
only for their own opinions. And lastly, relational leaders are well acquainted with the fact that
life experiences, especially with others, is rarely simple and straightforward, but rather complex
and messy. They desire an enlarging “capacity” within themselves to be able to handle more
and more complexity and messiness. Reactive living, as determined mostly by emotions and
limited understanding, diminishes each of these three areas over time. In doing so, leadership
impact shifts from serving and growing others to becoming more controlling and self-centered.

How can we grow this quality within us? Here are a few tips:

  1. Make it Important to You – Personal change begins with an internal shift of priorities
    and values. Choosing this quality as important reflects that first step.
  2. Practice in Routine – Make it a point to practice your pause and reflect during a normal
    day that has no particular crisis. That which you practice in times of normalcy will
    become a part of your life expression, especially in times of crisis.
  3. Explore Actions for Your personality – For some, their ability to pause and reflect can
    happen internally, no matter whose around. For others, they need to remove
    themselves and get alone to do so. Regardless of the manner, it will require both some
    time (pause) and critical evaluation (reflect) of the details. Create action based on how
    best you can do that right now.
  4. Follow up Questions – Be proactive to follow up with additional, clarifying questions to
    ascertain with greater confidence the truth and reality of the circumstances. Asking
    instead of assuming is the mark of a truth-seeker.
  5. Make a Decision – Depending on the events, a decision is needed, whether to remain
    quiet, offer counsel or direction, or even enter a type of conflict resolution process. As a
    leader, act on in some manner the outcome of your pause and reflection. Doing so
    reinforces its value for you personally.

Cultivating a reflective pause into our daily routines positions our hearts and minds to embrace
life and all its circumstance. Doing so gives us the constant opportunity to grow stronger,
deepen our courage and enlarge our outlook that life and relationship, even in crisis, remains a
gift of beauty, goodness, and wondrous expectation. Our world desperately needs this outlook.
In fact, each of us needs the encouragement of others like this too. Let’s do our part to be that
for others. You have permission – take your reflective pause. It will make all the difference.

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