In our series of “Being a Jerk as a Leader,” we talk about various traits of the right kind of “jerk.” This article, “Being a Jerk as a Leader: Why You Must Maintain Consistency,” covers how you should be consistent in your leadership.
Leadership isn't supposed to be popular. Leaders have to make decisions which aren't always popular. That's why we talk about having to be a jerk as a leader. It's not necessarily intentional to be a jerk as a leader. It's necessary to make the right decisions as the leader. So let's talk about why it's important to maintain consistency.
Dependable and Trustworthy
Your team and your organization needs for you to be dependable and trustworthy as you maintain consistency. Even though you may have to make a decision that isn't popular, you need to make decisions that line up with your leadership style and philosophy. Your team may or may not agree with the decision. Regardless, you want for the team to realize that it's consistent with your mission, vision and personality. Give them plenty of reliable information to allow them to work with. Give them information so they can support your decisions with consistent action. Make sure they know you're a jerk.
Your team and your organization needs for you to maintain consistency in your convictions and your resolve. Even if you are wrong – and we know we are definitely capable of being wrong – our team depends on us to be resolved in what we do. Passive, unpredictable leadership creates passive, unpredictable teams and organizations. If you find that you're wrong and you need to make a change, don't be stubborn just for stubborn's sake – make the right change. Just don't waver and confuse everyone. Just be a jerk.
Your team and your organization needs for you to represent the team in a perpetually strong way. Just like people who don't like a sports team or famous people “just because they're a jerk,” you need to accept the fact that people will see you and your team as being a threat. That's okay. It's better to be the threat than for people to think that you and your team are ineffective. In fact, make people expect you to be a little bit provocative. Let your team join you in that effort to maintain consistency.
One last point: when you maintain consistency, you become more powerful. Your team trusts you more. Competitors think about you more. Your enemies have a harder time to figure you out, simply because they start thinking that you're capable of more than they can see. The best leaders gain more respect because people know they're tough, focused and smart because of their consistency. And you can be that person, too.
Being consistent as a jerk makes you a better jerk.