"Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There's plenty of movement, but you never know if it's going to be forward, backwards, or sideways."
— H. Jackson Brown, Jr
When you look at your career direction, what do you see? Are you headed in the right direction? Whatever your long term goals are, self-discipline is the single most important tool to help you accomplish them. Sharpening the saw on your self-discipline will also help you be a more effective manager in the meantime.
There may be a time when you decide to purposefully change your course, and that is okay. But until then, what can you do to practice self-discipline, and how can you use it to be a more effective manager for your employees?
How to sharpen your own self-discipline:
Revisit your goals each day. Visualize yourself accomplishing your goals. The power of a clear vision will help jettison you toward your career goal. Take that vision seriously by doing something to help that dream become a reality.
Enlist a network. Start to use networks of friends and colleagues in your goals. Their support, encouragement and insight will aid your persistence. It might even help you find a connection that you need!
Recover quickly. Force yourself to recover from failure. It is unlikely that you will reach your goal without any failed attempts or risks, so jump in and be ready to bounce back.
Now, how do you transfer your acumen for self-discipline into a work environment that promotes self-discipline on its own? You are probably like most managers, in that taking disciplinary action is one of the least favorite parts of your job. That is why promoting an environment of self discipline is so valuable.
How to foster an environment of self-discipline:
1. Provide a thorough training program. By providing and fostering a comprehensive training program you are setting the tone for continuous improvement. Of course, careful analysis of what training program will result in ROI is critical. If chosen strategically, you will get the return on your training investment and much more—a demonstration of your priorities as a manager and organization.
2. Clarify expectations. This seems obvious, but clarifying expectations in this case expands on the expectations you have for job performance and task completion. It also means that you should clarify your expectations of continuous improvement, employee initiatives and problem solving.
3. Fan the flame of positive behavior. Catch people handling situations positively and taking action on their own. Reward them in whatever way you can, even if all you can do is give praise. If you are able to offer monetary rewards, time off or increased professional development opportunities, all the better.
4. React positively to new ideas. Is your workplace open to new ideas? Give any new idea some air time, whether it is implemented or not. This encourages people to take ownership over their work domain, and pursue their own goals, without you driving their motivation.
5. Keep a beat on your staff members. Do this by meeting with them regularly. These weekly meetings are typical, but often get pushed aside during busy periods. This sends the message that the meeting is unimportant. Emphasize how much you care about meeting with your staff members by setting their weekly update meeting in stone. Use this time to make sure projects are flowing and to take the pulse on how they are doing.
Click on the Action Steps and print them out to get started fostering an environment of self-discipline in your workplace.