*Emotional Intelligence trainer, Alesia Latson, told the following story in a training about her grandparents. In the south in the 40s, it was customary to take an evening stroll after dinner. So one particular evening, her grandparents went for their evening stroll after dinner.

Well, the neighborhood “hussy” was coming towards them in the opposite direction. When the “hussy” came upon the couple, her grandfather tipped his hat to her. Alesia’s grandmother, very sternly said to her husband, “I can’t believe you tipped your hat to that woman”. To which her grandfather replied, “I didn’t tip my hat because of who she is, but because of who I am. I’m a gentleman”.

Who are you in the face of life’s happenings? Do you say mean things to your significant other because they “made you”? Do you talk down to the receptionist because you believe that her position is “lower” than yours? Are you curt with people who call you until you find out they are “important”? Do you join in the group gossip about a person because everyone else is doing it? Do you treat the person dressed well different than the one who is not?

“Most great leaders understand intuitively that consistency is an important part of leadership. That’s because the most effective leaders know that in order to be perceived as a strong leader they must maintain a strong set of values, live by a certain code of conduct, effectively communicate these to different constituencies, and then lead by example. One cannot appear to be one thing to one group of people and something else to a different set—there needs to be one “you” if you are to be viewed as an stalwart leader.” Excerpt from Jeffrey Krames’, publishing consultant, website.

How many times have you spoken of a mutual acquaintance with someone and you each described them completely different? When the person with the positive perception hears about the negative perception, guess which one they walk away with? Yes, at a minimum they are questioning whether or not they just happened to catch you on a good day or if you are really a jerk. Understanding your values and firmly what you believe should guide your actions. People who have not identified these things may have a much tougher time with being consistent, since there is no foundation.

Take time to locate yourself, establish your values, understand your motivations and behaviors, and act accordingly each time. The momentary gratification of acting out of your character will not produce the ultimate results that you want. “Tip your hat because you’re a gentleman.”

Monica Cost is communications strategist, brand manager and respected corporate and motivational speaker. She is the President and Founder of Evidently Assured, a communications and brand management firm.  Email her at:  [email protected]. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost.