“Getting an audience is hard. Sustaining an audience is hard. It demands a consistency of thought, of purpose, and of action over a long period of time.” (Bruce Springsteen)
Bruce Springsteen, aka The Boss, has been making music now for more than five decades. He’s run a pretty tight ship over that time with his E Street Band and as a solo artist. Plenty of his contemporaries have dropped by the wayside. He’s still going strong. Connecting with his audience, making great music. He’s been consistent all the way.
I think the most important skill for any leader in any business, including the music business, to possess is consistency. The minute you jump around in anything you do in life, your message becomes hazy and people don’t know how to behave around you. I think as you recruit more and more team members, and you grow and scale your businesses, consistency becomes more and more important.
I’ll give you a prime example. If you walk past someone every single morning and you say, “Hello”, the day you don’t say hello, that person says to you, “What’s going on? Why didn’t he say hello to me?” Leaders must possess the self-awareness to ensure they conduct business and behave in a consistent manner – and this consistency must permeate the entire organisation, including marketing.
A retailer, for instance, will risk alienating their customers if they ditch a product line that engenders brand recognition in favour of something categorically different and, by comparison, off-brand. Likewise, customers will begin to question what you stand for if you have historically marketed an association between your product line a particular virtue – say, safety – and this virtue has become synonymous with your product line…and then, suddenly, you ditch safety and begin selling excitement and adventure.
It’s that ‘hang on, I thought you were about this…’ factor. It produces a cognitive dissonance about your message and makes customers second guess what they are getting.
In terms of management style, being inconsistent creates grey areas. Grey areas are the breeding ground for misunderstandings, communication failures and dashed expectations.
Consistency demands rigour. The processes and practices you put in place need to have been thought through, so that they are logical, rational, and understandable. That’s not always easy, and sometimes requires in-depth thought and modelling on what the ramifications and implications are of the positions and policies you hold.
Nothing disappoints customers more than when a business back pedals out of a poorly conceived promise. You lose customers because you failed to show consistency, explicitly manifested by the fact you couldn’t keep a promise you made to them. You did not live up to expectations.
Likewise, nothing deflates employees more than when they are told one thing but held to account for something else entirely. It’s about having consistency in setting expectations, accountabilities, and standards for all your key stakeholders.
We find consistency is the glue that holds so much together in our business; whether it’s our customers and the service we provide them; or the expectations and accountability of every single team member from customer service to development, through to sales, through to marketing.
Once employees have consistency, they know what they’re accountable for, what is expected of them. That provides a solid foundation for creating a positive and productive work environment.
Consistency gives people the level of reassurance they require to get on with things without having to second-guess rules and expectations. It’s when people start having fun. When we can get everybody engaged, we can let everybody have wins along the way, we can make them feel incredibly valued in their journey. That’s when we really find that we get results.
About the author
Jason Wyatt is the co-founder and managing director of Marketplacer. He is a serial entrepreneur, having started multiple online marketplaces including BikeExchange, winner of Telstra Business of the Year in 2012.