“All Animals Are Equal”
The first half of a quote I have picked up in my Literature class while studying George Orwell’s Animal Farm. In the novella, two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon lead an animal rebellion against their human owners, coming up with the Seven Commandments of Animalism. The chief maxim was that “All animals are equal”, reflecting their initial beliefs that everyone is equal in the post-rebellion society.
ABOUT THE CONSISTENCY TALENT THEME
Gallup’s Consistency talent theme takes the last spot in my top five strengths. People with this theme tend to favour even-handedness in the things they do. In addition, the environment that they operate in should be balanced where everyone is treated the same way. I always subconsciously note that in another life, I could have been a great judge based on this talent theme!
People with the Consistency theme are naturally adept at creating and maintaining controlled environments. By ‘controlled’ I mean rules that are in black and white for all to see. The focus is on fairness and the use of objective and measurable performance metrics. There are no hidden conditions, no way to ‘get past the system’. In this manner, things are kept predictable and the result will therefore also be predictable.
The standardised approach may not sit well with everyone. For example, people who possess the Individualization theme may see your way of doing things as ‘overly-rigid’. Personally, since the Discipline theme sits within my top 10, I find I am particularly prone to be reliant only on things that have worked well thus far.
To mitigate this, I think it is good to realise that there are some situations where an out-of-the-box approach could perform better. Consider allowing some leeway for others to operate, especially when established procedures have led to gridlocks in the past. If you are looking for actual results at the end of the day, the processes used to get there may become a secondary concern.
CONSISTENCY AT WORK
As a Leader / Employer
- You are in the prime position to set the scene, so lay down the rules. Demarcate clear ‘go’ and ‘no-go’ zones in your team/organization so everyone can play on an even ground. May the best person (based on merits and abilities) win!
- Enforce the rules. There is no point in setting the scene only to have the entire team ignoring it. Watch out for those who seek to ‘break the rules’ to minimise disruption to your plans. When doing this, it helps to give the benefit of the doubt occasionally.
- Give credit where it is due. There may be some in the team who love to trumpet their own achievements. Firstly, make sure it is earned – then seek to balance it out by crediting those who may not be as good at self-promotion.
As a Follower / Employee
- Seek out the rules playbook by which you and everyone else can follow. If none exists, push to set up one, since it will help you get your bearings right. You could even offer to help set it up!
- There may be times when rules and procedures change. If you are uncomfortable with the new rules put in place, inform your boss and ask for more time to adapt. If things do not get better, consider your alternatives in seeking to work with another team/company that is more aligned with your values.
THEME PAIRINGS FOR CONSISTENCY
Some of the themes that pair well with Consistency are:
- Individualization – People with the Individualization theme are intrigued about the unique qualities of every single person. This ability to accommodate for individual differences can act as a sounding board for times when you may come across as being too rigid in the rules that you set.
- Maximizer – Their focus on achieving efficiency and bringing out the best in every situation could help you see areas where your insistence on being fair comes at a cost to the overall goal.
One of the best case studies I can think of in the application of Consistency comes from Bridgewater Associates, a hedge fund in the financial industry. Its founder, Ray Dalio advocates an organization of radical transparency, where everyone’s performance is judged on an objective set of metrics. These metrics are available for all to see. To me, the results of implementing a culture of radical transparency are astounding as Ray notes that many honest conversations have taken place. Not only has that increased the organisation’s effectiveness in decision making, it has also helped to point out each individual’s flaws objectively so they can improve themselves.
“All Animals Are Equal, But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others”
With that said, I do acknowledge that in reality it is hard to achieve 100% consistency in everything. Even in communist societies, inequalities exist and social connections help some get ahead of others (I am not rooting for a communist society just to be clear!).
In Animal Farm, the pigs end up modifying the Seven Commandments of Animalism for their own benefit, with the other animals haplessly following along. I see this happening in the real world as well. Being overly attached on achieving consistency can cause unnecessary frustration to yourself. Perhaps a more practical way would be to understand the parts of your environment where you are able to enforce consistency, and implement this theme on a best-efforts basis.