Why consistency is critical in business
Zig Ziglar, the American author and motivational speaker, once said: “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.”
I find this quotation interesting as it reflects a basic truth that you and I face every day, whether it is in our personal lives or in our work.
We face days where we have no motivation at all, while on other days, we have plenty to keep up us running all day. But as Ziglar observed, because it doesn’t last, we must try hard to motivate and be motivated every day.
His quotation also reminds me of a talk that Simon Sinek, the author of Start With Why, gave on intensity versus consistency. Businesses in our age, he observed, want results as soon as possible; they want intensity. While intensity is good for quick results, working on things consistently is just as important to yield long-term results.
The fact of our world today is that most organisations and businesses prefer intensity. That is not entirely wrong. But intensity without some consistency can surely cause problems. Simon Sinek illustrates the challenge by using an experience we’re all familiar with.
When you go to the dentist, he says, that’s intensity. You know what time you’ll be done and the results are almost immediate. Your teeth are fixed. In business, as leaders, we’re tempted into intensity because we know the results will come quickly.
There is really nothing wrong with that. But if the only thing you ever do for oral care is visit the dentist a couple times a year, your teeth will fall out.
On the other hand, consistency is when you brush your teeth every day. You’re not sure what the results are and when they will happen. What happens if you don’t brush for a day or two? When can you start seeing results? You won’t know. If you don’t consistently care for your teeth, though, you know there’ll there will be cavities and possibly other problems.
So why exactly is consistency so important for your organisation? In my experience, consistency builds trust in your organisation. When you are consistent in talking to people in your organisation, for example, you not only build relationships with them, you also build trust.
And with trust, consistency brings value: for your people from your consistent support, for you from their consistent work, and also valuable results to your customers that come back to your business. It becomes sustainable.
If you think about it, consistency is also important in terms of mindset, leadership and innovation. What happens when you’re not consistently practising the right mindset? Or if you are inconsistent in leading your people or pushing innovation? This is something I’ll focus at a later time.
When you and your people are consistent with certain things, it becomes a habit, creating a more genuine approach towards the work and other aspects in life.
So understanding the importance of consistency is one thing. Here’s how to practise it in your organisation.
First, understand your organisation’s current ways. Ask yourself questions and observe: how are your people working? How do they achieve their goals? What kinds of results are they achieving? It is important for you to understand the current state of your organisation in order to make decisions on the next step.
Second, you must make sure that role models of consistency are visible to all. Whether you look at other successful organisations that have consistent ways of doing things or practise it yourself, the point is to make sure that you’re living it too. It’s one thing to expect your people to be consistent, but if you don’t buy into the idea yourself, you’ll have a hard time convincing your people.
Last, as they say at Nike: “Just do it”. The best way is to begin. Once you start, you’ll have to keep it going — and consistently.
Intensity is something businesses are used to and there’s nothing wrong with it, especially when you’re trying to achieve quick results. But for trust, value and sustainability, be consistent. And in our world today, consistency may be the key to raising the level of your game.
Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia’s leading executive, leadership and innovation capability development centre. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa
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