When we think of the word “consequences” a number of negative emotions can be triggered – shame, pain, deprivation or other unfavorable feelings. So do consequences always have to have a gloomy connotation? What is the right role for consequences at work?

  1. First, remember that consequences naturally flow from our daily choices. Stephen R. Covey brilliantly wrote in First Things First, “We are free to choose our actions, . . . but we are not free to choose the consequences of these actions.” Make sure people clearly understand the natural consequences that will come from their behaviors, and don’t try to insulate them from those effects should they occur.
  2. Tell people what’s important via consequences. When a task or project holds consequences, that is an indicator that it really matters. Don’t fall into the trap of illuminating repercussions for things that aren’t that important. Bring clarity to the vital few priorities (which may be non-negotiable behaviors or outcomes or impact) by the consequences associated with them.
  3. Use both positive and negative consequences. Positive consequences may include leading a new project, promotion, financial incentives, etc. Negative consequences range from a serious conversation to disciplinary action in keeping with the organization’s policies.
  4. Accept your own consequences with grace. Understand that you too must accept the natural consequences of your actions, decisions, inaction, etc. Sometimes the organization will impose consequences as well. Reacting with humility and taking tangible steps to improve will speak volumes.

Josiah Stamp said, “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.” May we as leaders never dodge either – and help the people around us to do the same.

Have a sure-fire way of managing consequences? Comment below or message us.


Photo by Bradyn Trollip on Unsplash