Over the last 15 years, I’ve had the pleasure of living in some warm places like South Carolina, Arizona, North Carolina, and Cebu (Philippines). I like warm places. Perhaps it’s because I was born in the Mojave Desert or perhaps it’s because I like scuba diving in board shorts (no dry-suit for me!) or perhaps it’s because I like wearing t-shirts and rainbows (or going barefoot). As a kid, I grew up catching chuckwallas, horny toads, and monitor lizards. And as a young man, I spent hour upon hour swimming laps, surfing, snorkeling, and exploring tropical islands. Where did I meet my wife? Lifeguarding of course, where else!
But this winter I find myself in southern New England. The people are friendly. The area is beautiful. The fall leaves are breathtaking. And the food is surprisingly good (including renowned pizza, hamburgers, clam chowder, bakeries, diners, and lobster shacks). But the winters are cold, the days short, and the snow deep. Just a few days ago I got to try my hand at snow-blowing. And while I’m thankful to have a snow-blower (so I don’t have to shovel the drive and walk by hand), I keep asking myself how I ended up in a place where I need a snow-blower in the first place. It’s a long story and I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say that I’m not currently living on a tropical island. Local products include fresh maple syrup and artisanal cheese, not coconuts and sugarcane.
The early winter storm that came through last week was not unexpected. Weather forecasters had tracked it across the country for several days. And while we were only supposed to get 1-3” of snow, we were prepared for the 7-10” we received. Snowplows were ready. Roads were prepared with salt. And my snowblower was topped off with gas. Of course it took me 20 minutes to get it fired up. After all, there are 7 steps to starting it, a bit more complicated that my lawnmower. And I am a complete snowblowing novice.
The interesting bit about the snowstorm wasn’t the snow, it was how quickly the temperatures warmed up afterward. Almost immediately after the snow stopped falling, the temperatures started rising. Within a few hours it was in the low 50s (Fahrenheit) instead of the high 20s. The snow was gone in a couple days. Perhaps I should have waited to snowblow my drive and walk. Right? Well, the neighbors tell me you always snowblow because you never know when the next storm will roll in and you don’t want it to accumulate. A few years ago, the local area received 10 snowstorms within a 2-3 week period. It was dropping 4-7” of snow every couple days. Okay, got it. Always snowblow just to be on the safe side.
But while the weather may change quickly, going from snow to sunny and 55 degrees within a few hours, great leaders know the value of stability. Demonstrating consistency in your approach to people builds trust and confidence in your followers. Being steady during times of turbulence provides a solid foundation on which others can build. Displaying consistency in your strategy, even if you need to change tactics, is like a beacon in the darkness. Your organization will thrive when it sees your poise under pressure. Your followers will over-achieve when they see the conviction with which you hold to your values despite pressure to compromise.
When you show stability in your actions, words and approach, your team will thrive. They’ll know they can count on you. They’ll know you aren’t going to turn on them. They’ll know you have their interests at heart. They’ll know you aren’t politically persuaded. In sum, great leaders understand and value stability. Tactics can change quickly based upon the situation. Strategy can change over time. But great leaders don’t quickly change their strategy or their values. To do so creates chaos and an environment of fear, uncertainty and insecurity.
Have a great week and remember to demonstrate stability in your interactions with others.
Dr. Robert Gerwig is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.
Photo by Author