Discipline. For some people, that word makes them shudder. For great leaders, they associate it with a sense of peace and comfort. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, discipline might be thought of as an “orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior.”
Generally speaking, discipline is about doing what you need to do first and what you want to do second. It’s about prioritizing issues, while managing the expectations of one’s constituency.
Great leaders know the importance of exercising a sense of discipline in all that they do. They’re able to accomplish a great deal because they create systems that allow them to do more – faster, easier, and with less effort. They create procedures for handling routine matters which leaves them more bandwidth to focus on bigger and more important issues. They also systematize as many activities as possible – all with the intention of getting things done more efficiently and effectively.
Discipline, as it applies to leadership roles, also includes staying on track with the mission, vision and values of the organization. After all, that’s why you’re in the leadership role – to carry out the wishes of the organization or those who may have elected or put you in that position of power.
It’s not about you or being arrogant or doing what you think is important. It’s about carrying out the goals and objectives of the organization. It takes discipline on the part of leaders to not let their ego overshadow or unduly influence their role and responsibilities. Each day, he or she must remember why they’re in that position and must do all they can to resist the temptation to misuse their power or role in the execution of their duties.
Discipline also relates to one’s character. It takes discipline to always choose the higher road, to resist those who want to pull you off your goals and to withstand the criticism and contempt which, more often than not, goes along with being in a position of power. It takes a diligent calling forth of inner resolve and courage to do the right thing no matter what challenges you face. True leaders always pass the test with flying colors; those who cannot and succumb to unethical or immoral behavior fall away and are quickly replaced with others who can lead from a place of integrity.
What disciplines do you adhere to? How do you think they’ve influenced your effectiveness as a leader? In what areas might you institute more discipline – whether it be within yourself or in terms of implementing systems or procedures to help in the execution of organizational objectives?
“Leadership is one of the things you cannot delegate. You either exercise it, or you abdicate it.” — Robert Goizueta
Tara Kachaturoff is the creator, producer and host of Michigan Entrepreneur TV, a weekly television talk show featuring business leaders and businesses from start-up to stellar. With over 15 years of experience in corporate finance in the tech sector, she now coaches executives, business professionals, and entrepreneurs on leadership, management, productivity, and marketing issues. Tara is also the author of 21 Qualities of a Leader from which this article is excerpted.