Why Should I Care About Consistent Leadership Training?

One of the most important principles of successful leadership is consistency, and that flows from consistent leadership training. There are two ways to interpret what leadership consistency means. First, it may refer to leaders who are on board with company values and human resources practices, applying them consistently wherever they work in the organization. The other perspective concerns individual consistency in leadership style and decision-making.

In either case, organizational success depends on its managers and supervisors exhibiting leadership behaviors that are predictable and in alignment with business goals. Those goals typically include developing high employee engagement and positive employee-employer relationships, making defensible decisions that are always in alignment with organizational goals, and staying union-free

The key to achieving consistent leaders is consistent leadership training that builds a foundation for appropriate leadership behaviors while building on an individual’s strengths and addressing weaknesses.

At A Better Leader, we are committed to helping employers foster an engaged, supported workforce with a strong culture. We provide online leadership training to help your leaders connect with employees at all levels. Of course, we strongly believe in consistent leadership training. We’ll discuss why we think you should too.

What Does it Mean to be an Inconsistent Leader?

Some people make it into leadership roles without leadership training. This is particularly true of front line supervisors being promoted into their positions from the staff level. In these situations, inconsistent leadership is due to a lack of training for transitioning from a staff role to a decision-making role. So they struggle from decision-to-decision and event to event, with no basis for making an informed, thoughtful decision within the context of organizational goals.

Some other managers and supervisors don’t understand the impact their inconsistent behaviors have on staff. They make decisions based on their current mood, treat some people more favorably than others, or intentionally violate employment laws through the abuse of their positions or unintentionally due to lack of knowledge. 

The consequences of inconsistent leadership can be severe and long-lasting. Some leaders keep their departments in chaos and employees on edge because it’s impossible to predict how the supervisor or manager will react or what to expect. Inconsistent leaders express themselves in many different ways:

  • Mood swings that influence decisions at the moment
  • Requiring certain employee actions, like getting a signature on a form, one day but not the next
  • Showing favoritism to certain employees
  • Making decisions that conflict with departmental rules or employee handbook policies, keeping employees guessing
  • Confusing employees by making decisions that seem to go against what the organization’s websites, information meetings, and training communicate about organizational goals, strategies, and values
  • Failing to keep commitments to employees
  • Making decisions, then changing them at the last minute
  • Being critical of an employee’s efforts that were praised the day before
  • Making spur of the moment decisions without appropriate data and diverse employee input
  • Violating employee rights per the NLRA
  • Showing a lack of concern for employee health and welfare
  • Refusing to explain reasoning behind decisions

The Importance of Trust

It is difficult for employees to work with and for managers and supervisors who keep people guessing. Chaotic leadership causes a lot of problems. One being a lack of employee trust. Managers must develop trust with their employees. Trust is reinforced with consistency in decision-making, policy implementation, enforcement of rules and procedures, and following through with promises and commitments. It takes real effort and awareness. 

Think about the people trusted in your personal life. They are dependable and have proven they would never do or say things that are harmful to you. Employees trust their managers and supervisors when they believe their leaders keep their interests in mind at all times – while making decisions on the spot or attending meetings with upper management at which employees are not present.

Consistent leaders also define expectations for employees. Their team members don’t have to guess what the goals are. They understand their roles, and know they can find and talk to the supervisor when work issues arise. Employees have all the information needed to succeed and don’t get bits and pieces of information that make their jobs more difficult. 

This is one reason that regular communication with employees is so important. It offers the two-way exchange of information, strengthening employee buy-in, and helping with the identification of potential problems. Random and sporadic communication seldom works.

Lack of Consistent Leadership and Unions

Consistency means all managers and leaders understand and accept the organization’s perspective on everything from community relations and company strategies to goals and unions. One of the ways companies end up dealing with union organizing is when managers are uninformed about employee and employer rights and limitations concerning union organizing and are unfamiliar with employment laws. The National Labor Relations Board regularly considers Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) petitions, and the common reason is that managers didn’t understand what they can and do. 

Unions also get a foot in the employer’s workplace because of inconsistent enforcement of workplace rules. For example, employees use bulletin boards for years to post notices of charities, club meetings, and social hours after work. When a notice of a meeting with union representatives is posted, for purposes of discussing potential union organizing, the employer prohibits it. This inconsistency is considered discriminatory against the union and interested employees.

The NLRB rules change all the time, making consistent and regular leadership training critical to staying union-free. For example, the NLRB recently overruled a decision made in Purple Communications Inc (361 NLRB 1050 (2014)) that gave employees a presumptive right to use their work email systems on nonworking time for Section 7 NLRA protected communications.

Stay Up-to-date with Employee Handbooks

A new ruling on December 17, 2019, in the case of Caesars Entertainment d/b/a Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino (368 NLRB No 143) says employees don’t have a statutory right to use an employer’s emails and other IT resources to engage in non-work-related communications. Employers can once again control their equipment and restrict its use, as long as the restrictions don’t discriminate against unions or other protected concerted communications. 

Many employers revised their employee handbooks and work rules in response to the Purple Communications NLRB decision. Now it’s important to revisit the new decision and current employee handbooks. If a change is made to restrict equipment use to “business use only,” managers and supervisors must enforce it with consistency in a neutral and non-discriminatory manner. 

It’s easy to see that consistent leadership training is important to keep the company from charges of discrimination against unions. You can’t have one supervisor ordering an employee to stop using email for union organizing purposes, citing company policy, while a different supervisor allows it. Inconsistent application of employment law and company policy is a path for charges of Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs). A manager cannot lay-off or discipline only the employees who seem interested in starting a union.

Consistent Leadership Training and Employee Engagement

Consistent leadership training is needed to minimize the chances of the organization’s managers and supervisors violating employment laws and company policies. It’s also needed to strengthen employee engagement by developing and maintaining good employee relations. 

Developing employee engagement is a process that depends on effective management communication. Leadership training provides the foundation for communication by sharing the company’s vision, values, expectations, strategies, and goals. Gallup research, in one case, found that only 22 percent of employees agree their leaders have a clear direction for their organization. That number indicates a lack of consistent leadership training. 

It’s important that all leaders get the same foundation and then explore their strengths and weaknesses to determine the next training steps. Regular training makes it more likely their leaders are:

  • Sharing the same organizational vision with employees
  • Treating all employees with respect
  • Actively listening to employees 
  • Giving regular employee feedback
  • Encouraging employees to share new ideas and innovations
  • Following organizational policies and procedures
  • Responding to signs of union organizing in the appropriate way
  • Inspiring employees to pursue their potential and develop their capabilities

The Importance of Leadership Training

Uninspiring leaders have a measurable negative impact on their team. According to research by behavioral statistician Joseph Folkman, uninspiring leaders have a 9 percent overall leadership effectiveness, 23 percent average engagement of direct reports, 47 percent of their direct reports thinking about quitting, and a 3 percent probability of being a high potential leader. 

Without leadership training, many leaders flounder, hurting employee engagement because they don’t know how to be a role model, communicate and interact with employees and peers, help people learn new skills and create a positive work culture. Clearly, these are not skills a person learns all at once in random training. Once again, it falls on consistent training to help leaders be good or great at inspiring others.

Almost everything a manager or supervisor does centers around effective communication. Positive and negative consequences of leadership actions are usually the result of communication practices. Consistent leadership training is not only about sharing critical information across the management levels, but is necessary to:

  • Keep leaders informed of policy and employment law changes
  • Share new or revised organizational strategies and goals
  • Maintain a quality level of leadership performance
  • Develop leadership self-awareness of personal abilities and capabilities, and strengths and weaknesses
  • Reinforce positive leadership skills
  • Establish principles of leadership behaviors
  • Inform as to what being inclusive really means; i.e., let a variety of employees help create new policies and procedures or identify and solve problems
  • Develop motivational skills

Conformity and Regularity in Training

Consistency refers to both the conformity of training and the regularity. Leadership training is not a one-and-done process. Managers and supervisors need access to on-demand and customized training via videos, websites, eLearning programs, workshops, and conferences. Using technology tools, the training can deliver the foundational information that drives quality leadership while also delivering customized training to develop specific leadership strengths or to address areas of weakness. 

Consistent leadership training flows right to the bottom line through better employee engagement that leads to higher productivity. Take care of your people, and everything else gets easier.

Building An Organization With Consistent Leadership

As you can see, consistent leadership should be a priority for your workplace. We are proud to be able to offer training that, according to our happy clients, “provides excellent concept introduction for new leaders, without talking down to seasoned ones.” If you are looking to build a strong company culture with engaged, motivated employees, look no further. A Better Leader would love to be the difference-maker in your organization.

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About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is Director of IRI's Digital Workplace Solutions Group, and the founder of A Better Leader. Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.