When you watch a magician or a comedian and the punchline is too obvious, it gets boring. In these situations, you want to be surprised, amazed and fascinated. The next step on stage shouldn’t be predictable. This is what brings in an element of excitement and gives you a good night of entertainment.
As predictability is often associated with boredom, some people hesitate on how to act once they are in their first management position. As they don’t want to become a lame duck in leadership, they might try to react differently to similar requests or at least keep their potential reaction a secret.
Unfortunately, this will lead to insecurity within the employees. As they don’t know how the reaction will be, they need to prepare for all kind of answers which costs a lot more time and energy in preparing meetings with the boss. Most likely, they will reduce the interaction with the boss as it is too energy consuming to enter the uncertainty on a regular basis. Neither trust nor a relationship can be build.
So how does a predictable leadership style look like?
You need to define for yourself, how you want to be as a leader. This requires some time and reflection. For sure, you can change during the course of your career. But first, you need to know who you are and how you want to behave. Here are some questions to think about:
- How approachable do you want to be? Can people enter your room any time? Do they need an appointment?
- How will you listen to their requests?
- What is your first reaction? How quick are you to decide?
- What are your values?
- To what degree will you bring in emotions into the workplace?
There is no right or wrong in the style that you choose. But your people need to know what your boundaries are. For example: if people start entering your room at any given time, and all of a sudden you rebuke randomly one person of your team for doing so, you create uncertainty that the team can not solve. It is your responsibility to let people know how interaction works for you. You become predictable.
Predictability means that you know what your boundaries and rules are. You communicate them in advance and act accordingly. This builds trust between you and the team as they can rely on you and your word.
The same is true for handling decisions. You need to know how long you will listen to an idea and how you will react. Maybe you are someone who will never decide on the spot. Let your team know. Then they have the chance to bring in matters of decision in an early stage, giving you the chance to think and decide over time.
Predictability is also relevant towards your ‘mood’. You need to decide, what type of mood you will bring to your workplace and how much it will influence your decisions.
In every area where you do not act predictable, your team will need to start guessing what kind of a day it is for you. And every time, you bring your team in this situation, they will need an extra portion of energy to do their job. Usually, this destroys trust.
Therefore, if you know who you are and communicate well towards your team, you will build trusting relationships through predictability. And these trusting relationships are the fuel for good working environments where people love to work and even like to go the extra mile.