Walking with integrity
Consistency in words and deeds may sound like the meeting commitments, but it’s really quite different.
In this case, no promise or commitment is made. It’s just the comparison of the things you say and the things you do. Inconsistencies that translate to untrustworthiness can occur in three areas.
- Inconsistency between words and deeds. In other words, someone says one thing and then does the opposite of what he said. For example, if I tell you “I don’t smoke,” and then you see me out behind the barn smoking up a storm, I’ve just shot my credibility in your eyes. You’d probably think twice before you’d trust anything else I would say.
- Inconsistency between two statements. You say something at one time and then say something at another time that conflicts with your original statement. This obviously causes someone to think that one of those statements was a lie.
- Inconsistency between two deeds. For example, you see me attend church and lead bible studies on a regular basis, then the next thing you know, I’m being arrested for cheating on my income tax returns. My actions of attending a church where I’m taught Christ’s teaching of “give to Cesar what is Cesar’s,” or pay my taxes and obey the law, do not coincide with my actions of cheating on my tax returns.
Inconsistency between words and deeds is seen as a lie, whether intentional or not. You have heard the expression that he or she is “living a lie” when someone says one thing and then does another. Said another way, consistency in facts or perceptions is seen as truth, and truth is the pathway to trust. I have told more than one of my client executives that “the truth works better than anything else, because anything else is a lie.” I like very much what the great scientist Albert Einstein was quoted as saying,
“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters
cannot be trusted in important matters.”
There are two behaviors that can help improve consistency in words and deeds.
- Do not lie – for any reason – ever – even little white ones. Ephesians 4:25 tells us, “Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor.”
- If confronted by someone about an inconsistency in word or deed, seek to understand the nature of the inconsistency, apologize, ask forgiveness and change your ways. Do not make excuses. Do not get defensive.
Remember, your leadership is held in the hands of your followers. Let them hold you accountable. You’ll come out ahead in the long run.
But wait. There is more. Meeting commitments and walking in integrity is not enough. Trust must include servant leadership.