When I sat down to begin preparing this post, my first question was, how does self-discipline relate to leadership? For most, I think when we consider the matter of self-discipline, we think about it from the standpoint of having control or restraint. For example, making the decision to limit the amount of junk food we allow ourselves to consume.
But, how does it relate to leadership? How does it relate to our ability as leaders to engage, empower, and motivate our teams?
When I looked up the definition, I found that self-discipline is “The ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it.”
It’s easy to see how self-discipline can apply to leadership. I’ve been saying for a long time that when it comes to leadership, IQ doesn’t matter. It’s our EQ, our Emotional Intelligence that plays a more integral role in leading and developing others.
It’s more about having a heart-knowledge than it is a head-knowledge. Our levels of self-awareness, our ability to regulate our emotions, our social skills, and our ability to have empathy for others all play a role. Couple this with the second part of the definition focused on pursuing what’s right, it’s easy to see how seamlessly our topic of self-discipline relates to leadership.
Sometimes doing the right thing is hard – especially when it involves people’s livelihoods.
As you and I continue to move forward in our growth, we will uncover weaknesses. It will our responsibility to have the self-discipline to commit to the learning and development process and to ultimately overcome them to the best of our ability.
It’s the right thing to do for the people each of us lead, and ourselves.
So, in conclusion, I’d like to leave you with a handful of things to consider – things that leaders with great self-discipline do well. These five things will empower each of us to lead ourselves and others with more influence.(1)
Here they are:
- Successful leaders pay close attention to their moods – As leaders, it’s vital that we live by our commitments to the organization we work with and to those we lead. Leaders who do the right thing, even when they don’t feel like it, tend to have the most success.
- Successful leaders monitor their words – In a previous article, I think I mentioned the importance of the “5-Second Rule.” Think about what you’re going to say first before opening your mouth. Reread your email once or twice before hitting the send button.
- Successful leaders restrain their negative emotions – How long does it take before you lose your temper? A lot of positive influence with your team members can be cut short by a short fuse.
- Successful leaders stick to their schedule – If you don’t determine what’s important to you and how you choose to spend your time, you can be sure that others will ultimately choose for you.
- Successful leaders focus on maintaining their health – Working inside of a growing organization can be stressful and challenging. Good leaders form habits that keep their energy level up and help them last through the stressful seasons while still maintaining good health.
The disciplines we establish today as leaders will not only determine the success of the organization over the long-term but our own success as well.
With that in mind, be thinking about the small disciplines that you need to begin to cultivate in your respective role and the impact it will have on your team. And lastly, decide to “Just Do It!” You will be so grateful you did.
“Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” – John C. Maxwell
Of the five things I listed above that self-disciplined leaders do well, which one do you need to work on and why? Please comment below. I look forward to reading your insights on this post and engaging with you.
Nathan R Mitchell is America’s Leading Empowerment CoachTM and the Editor of Leadership Addict. In 2010 he founded the business and leadership development company, Clutch Consulting. Nathan is also a Certified Speaker, Trainer, and Coach with The John Maxwell Team. Originally from Springfield Missouri, Nathan earned his B.S. Degree in Management and an MBA from Missouri State University. Currently, he lives near Tulsa Oklahoma with his wife and children. His purpose in life is to empower others to lead to their full leadership potential.
(1) Adapted from Rick Warren’s article, “6 Ways Successful Leaders Practice Self-Discipline,” January 29th, 2018. https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/6-ways-successful-leaders-practice-self-discipline/