Consistency matters

This article was originally published on RoundtableTalk, official blog of The Executive Roundtable, an accelerator group for next generation executives.

For a compelling example (and a good lesson on why consistency is important) look no further than this video of an indignant Australian Prime Minister (Julia Gillard) thumping the Leader of the Opposition (Tony Abbott) over accusations of misogyny. The subject matter is important, but not material to this post. What is material though, is the documented lack of congruence between what Mr. Abbott said and did, and what Mr. Abbott said and said. It’s pretty rich, a man who’s more than once referred to the Prime Minister as a bitch, feigning disgust over the apparent presence of sexism in Parliament. Rather than explaining it all, I’ll let you watch it … it’s worth the 15 minutes.

As leaders, we may find in moments of frustration, stress, the frenzy of a busy day or expedience, that we say or do things off the cuff that don’t line up with who we are or what we stand for. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama can both attest to this. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes.

And though the lack of congruence between our words and actions or words and words may not have the gravity of a world leader’s, it should matter to us, and does to those we lead. It’s the difference between being on the ball and out to lunch, between being trustworthy and a big fat fake.

The next time you’re about to make a decision or express an opinion in the heat of the moment, stop. Just for a minute. And remember Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. It just may save you from yourself, or a viral video others could use to make an example of you.