I read. A lot. As you recall from my posts a few weeks back on my summer reading list, I’ve really been big on reading over the last few years. In addition to books, I subscribe to a few dozen blogs, and using Flipboard, read interesting articles from all over the place.
Recently, I came across an article on leadership. As a technical leader, I’m always learning, always trying to get better. There was one quote in this whole article that really stuck out to me. It was about consistency, and how important it is for a leader to be consistent.
“It’s important that people know you are consistent and fair in how you think about making decisions and that there’s an element of predictability. If a leader is consistent, people on their teams experience tremendous freedom, because then they know that within certain parameters, they can do whatever they want. If your manager is all over the place, you’re never going to know what you can do, and you’re going to experience it as very restrictive.”
Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior vice president for people operations
Are You Consistent?
Think about that concept for a little bit. If you know what your boss or pastor want from you, there is tremendous freedom to figure out how to do it, what tools to use and even what the end product looks like. But if he’s all over the place, you never really know what you can do and what you can’t.
Consider how you deal with your tech team. Do you micromanage one lighting programmer but never say anything to another? Or do you sometimes micromanage the lights one week, but not the next? Do the parameters for “success” change week to week?
“I’ll tell you if I don’t like it…”
Or do you (or does your boss) not give any parameters for the result, but simply point out what you don’t like? By they way, that is the worst way to lead creatives. When someone tells me, “I don’t know what I want, but I’ll tell you when I see something I don’t like,” I cringe. If I have the choice, I won’t work with that person.
With no guidelines, the poor creative person simply throws a bunch of stuff against the wall hoping something will stick and that they won’t get scolded too severely if they miss the mark that wasn’t there in the first place. There are few better ways to demotivate creatives.
The Box of Freedom
We implemented a process here called the Freedom Box. We got the key stakeholders together for a meeting and defined some parameters—in this case for lighting. As a team, including our leadership, we drafted an outline of some things we definitely don’t want (e.g. shining lights in the eyes of the congregation), and set some lighting levels for various parts of the service. The parameters are not good or bad, it’s just what we do or don’t want to see.
But once you get inside of those parameters the guys can do whatever they want. Now that the lighting guys know what not to do, they have a ton of freedom to do what they feel like the moment needs.
We no longer have to get on the guys for doing things we don’t like. It’s very consistent because everyone knows the expectations. I have to spend way less time policing them, and they are challenged to come up with different looks and effects within the bounds they are given.
When everyone knows the expectations, the stress level goes way down. We have a lot more fun, and our team gets better results with more longevity. The principle can be applied across the tech booth; define the parameters, then give the team freedom to do whatever they want inside those parameters. When we lead with consistency, everyone wins.