Safe and Sound

Feeling a little uncertain about events today? All of us are. With the news of a pandemic and the fluctuating stock market, we all desire a safe haven—or at the very least, some consistency. We long to express a deep sigh of relief and hopefully whisper the words “safe and sound.” Did you know “safe and sound” is actually a Naval insurance term? Whenever a ship returned from a journey overseas, if everyone were “safe” it meant there were no injuries or deaths. The ship was “sound” if it had not suffered serious damage.

I notice this with my rescue pup, Louie. When he settles in for the night, I hug him, and invariably I hear his “safe and sound” sigh. His being content and safe is largely due to my consistent loving and firm behavior. He never has to guess how I am going to respond. He has learned that a certain behavior from him will evoke a certain response from me. I don’t let bad behavior persist and then pounce on him. I am consistent with his discipline and even more so with his rewards. Because of this, he feels safe and has over the years responded well to our home.

Consistency doesn’t mean we are robotic.

Louie loves variety and enjoys a new adventure or a new path to walk. And the point isn’t simply to be consistent. Anyone can be consistently bad! The point is to be consistently good. For the sake of this blog, let’s stick with the good: my consistent behavior should always move Louie toward being a happier dog who loves his mama and his home! And so our leadership behaviors must be consistently moving our team toward having more trust, being more creative, experiencing contentment, and being more productive.

It is next to impossible to trust an inconsistent leader.

Their employees continually walk on eggshells because they never know if something is done perfectly, or if their very best effort will ever be good enough. An inconsistent leader may preach values but proceed to gossip about someone. An objective all leaders should have is to consistently display behaviors that promote trust and a safe culture.

I can certainly look back over the years and recognize that my own inconsistent behavior made it very difficult for people to be around me, much less for them to be content, happy, creative, and productive employees. I’ve also had several bosses who were very inconsistent with their behaviors. The mood was always “do your job, keep your head down, and do nothing to rock the boat.”

Consistent behavior that builds trust means remembering:

  1. Be who you say you are. People want to see you live the values you talk about.
  2. Being inconsistent does not always show up in an explosive temperament. We can also demonstrate inconsistency through passive aggressive behavior.
  3. Be open to change. A safe person is not afraid of constructive feedback. Model a willingness to work on your weaknesses. Your team just might follow your example.
  4. Be open and transparent. When we are guarded, people suspect we have something to hide. On the other hand, don’t go overboard on sharing personal data in an effort to prove you have nothing to hide! Be genuine and discerning.
  5. Have fun, lighten up, be consistently joyful.

We achieve more when we strive to be consistently excellent leaders.

Your team will trust you and your culture will thrive. And isn’t that what servant leadership is all about?

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