Leadership Lessons to Live by: The Battle with Inconsistency

“Inconsistency is the only thing in which men are consistent,” wrote the English poet Horace Smith. It’s true; inconsistency is a pervasive problem. When Christian leaders are inconsistent our leadership is less effective. Inconsistency is an Achilles heel for many leaders, and can even compromise an entire organization. For Christians, the charges of inconsistency are especially crucial, because they reflect upon our faith and upon God.

Areas of Inconsistency

The very word “inconsistency” may immediately bring to mind areas of your own inconsistency. Here are some of the common areas in which we tend to be inconsistent.

  • Not following through on commitments. We know what it’s like to return from a conference, retreat, or vacation full of resolve and excitement. We think we have the energy and enthusiasm to single-handedly turn the organization around. We make commitments, promises, claims, decrees, and grandiose proclamations…but seldom follow through. This is a problem of inconsistency. It can happen at points along the daily race of the day. “Yes, let’s meet at 3pm,” you tell your colleague, only to be so caught up in the stress of something else that you completely forget about it. These are signs of inconsistency.
  • Not maintaining your mission and vision. Some of the biggest inconsistencies occur on a macroscopic scale. When you as the leader, neglect the organization’s guiding lights — mission and vision — you are guilty of inconsistency. It’s hard, of course, to keep these issues central, but it is important for consistency’s sake.
  • Not mentoring those you work with. People are at the heart of your organization, and mentoring them is part of your mandate as an effective leader. Unfortunately, effective leaders are transformed into frustrated paper-pushers as the monumental tasks of leading an organization pile up. This, too, can be viewed as inconsistency.

The Causes of Inconsistency

This all sounds pretty harsh. It’s hard to listen to cries of “inconsistent!” when you’re just trying to your dead level best! Keep in mind that inconsistency isn’t a cardinal sin. Rather, it is the unfortunate result of the position and role that most leaders have. Here are some of the main causes of this inconsistency.

  • Stress and busyness. We’re all busy people, especially leaders. When the stress builds, consistency crumbles. It’s a natural result of stress, with all its negative and painful side effects.
  • Distractions and emergencies. Some days feel like a series of putting out fires. An emergency phone call, a last-minute meeting, an urgent email, a sudden deadline, and so the day flies by in a series of painful crises. How’s that for an environment in which consistency is maintained? It’s almost impossible.
  • Forgetfulness and laziness. Unfortunately, some inconsistency is due to our own natural forgetfulness and bent toward laziness. Not all, and probably not most, inconsistency is laziness. Some, however, is. We must be aware when our own weakness is contributing to our lack of consistency.

The Solution to Inconsistency

So, what’s the solution to the problem of inconsistency? How do we battle our inconsistency? Let’s first acknowledge that not all of our inconsistency, like our sin nature, may not be totally eradicated this side of eternity. However, we can take steps to reverse trends of inconsistency, and pursue a radically different form of leadership.

  • Control your schedule. If you can control your schedule, you can achieve greater consistency. By streamlining your day’s events and increasing your personal productivity, you can manage the areas in which you are inconsistent, and attend to areas of work that were previously neglected.
  • Maintain your priorities. Priority setting is essential for leadership, for productivity, and for consistency. Make an effort to remind yourself of your priorities. When you know what’s the big issues are, you’re more likely to remain consistent with them.
  • Uphold your vision and mission. Mission and vision provide the two main pillars that support an organization. If you as the leader can keep these issues central, you will better lead with consistency.
  • Keep people paramount. The problem of inconsistency is its discourteous effect upon the people in your organization or the people whom your organization serves. For those of us in Christian leadership, our goals should be mentoring, discipling, and edifying. When we allow these Christian roles to slip, we are cultivating an atmosphere of inconsistency. Strive to put people at the center of your day’s activities, not shoved to the periphery.

It’s easy to beat ourselves up over our lack of consistency. It’s also helpful to remember that leadership, life, and improvement takes time. Some forms of inconsistency are inevitable. Others, we can and should work on. What areas of consistency can you focus on this week?


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  • Reply Jennifer Olaribigbe July 15, 2012 at 9:26 am

    This is brilliant! It’s a wake up Call indeed.

  • Reply Nelleta Conway October 9, 2012 at 9:59 am

    This lesson was wonderful, particularly as a leader myself; it definitively deal with a lot of my inconsistencies and especially in ministry. Thanks a lot for sharing this lesson it was very much needed.

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