Unless you're a perfect leader, then being consistent is just another way of validating the status-quo. Great leaders make decisions that sometimes contradict prior decisions, because they want the best outcomes for the organization.
Ahhh...Todd Nielsen is on to something here. Flip-Flop Leadership, in the context presented by Todd, is indeed a good thing. But I want to take this a step beyond simple reversal of prior decisions. That is an important part of change for "great leaders"...certainly, but it is not the whole. I want to place this in the context of Real Leadership! Are You Ready?
The whole change in this additional context is related to the leader himself/ herself. In fact, Real Leaders change all the time...first their mind/ thinking as they continue Learning by validating assumptions against facts, then their behavior as the engage in the process of Changing, Growing, and Leading to new and better levels. In fact, if Real Leaders are consistent with anything, it is learning over time...life-long learning. This is why I made LIFE-LONG LEARNING the very first stage in the Leadership Enrichment LIFE-cycle. In fact, it represents the 'L' in that acronym, and it begins with the Emotional Connector of Awareness (as a stimulus) and ends at the Performance Waypoint of Learning (as a resonse).
But Todd's article is about Change. And Changing is the second Performance Waypoint--part of the next Enrichment Stage: INTERNAL LOCUS OF CONTROL (or the 'I' in the LIFE-cycle). Changing our mind as leaders means we have already elevated our Awareness and moved from a state of unconscious incompetence (e.g., I don't know that I don't know) to conscious incompetence (e.g., I know that I don't know). It also means we have remained open to Learning from that new information and taken the vital step of Acceptance (as apposed to rejection). Now we're ready to engage in Change...to make the selection of what to change, and what to change to. But as I warn my readers in the book, not all change is worthwhile. Not all change, nor the Action we take to bring it about, results in Growing (the Performance Waypoint of FULFILLMENT: the 3rd Leadership Enrichment Stage represented by the letter 'F' in the LIFE-cycle). So we must be willing to abandon a change if new information to the contrary reinforms our thinking along the way. Before you dismiss that as "stating the obvious," just ask yourself how often that really happens today? And if the change remains worthwhile, we must then pursue that change in the right way (through right and justifiable actions) because even the most worthwhile 'ends' don't justify all 'means.'
Below is an excerpt from my book that discusses these ideas in the section dedicated to Fulfillment:
"Growth in the context of enriching our leadership means we have acted on worthwhile changes and, as a result, have grown in appropriate ways….in maturity, influence, acceptability and attractiveness. It also implies we are able to achieve more than before and lead in ways never before imaginable, which we’ll discuss in Enrichment Stage #4 [EXCELLENCE]. But here again I want to pause for a quick cautionary note. Remember the quote from Stuart Emmett introduced in the first Enrichment Stage: "When I learn, I have to do something—therefore—I Change.” Well, change produces growth because the actions we take are suitable to that purpose. Our growth is locked in a cause-effect relationship with the energy we cultivate through our actions.
"I realize we’ve already spent a lot of time on motives, means and ends related to the actions we took to grow, but I just want to reinforce the idea that not all growth is desirable. Edward Abbey once quipped: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” He is spot-on. We’ve likely all had occasion to observe, in ourselves and in others, undesirable growth. If we cultivate the wrong things in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons, things will continue to go wrong and we’ll grow in ways that do not enrich leadership. So, as previously mentioned, ensure that you are focusing on changing the right things in the right way for the right reasons and you will stay on course."
What are you changing these days about your leadership? Is it resulting in the type of growth you were expecting? If you are trapped by lackluster results, I encouarge you to pick up my new book when it is released this summer. I'm confident it can provide some of the answer to the questions you have about the Leadership Enrichment LIFE-cycle and Real Leadership! The only question that remains is: Are You Ready?