As a leader and as someone always searching for innovative ideas, I have to say that I have been struggling with staying focused on one topic at a time, controlling my train of thoughts and filtering negative emotions. Although I come from a very disciplined home, my mind is sometimes undisciplined: tens of thousands of ideas flash through my mind in a second, which makes it difficult for my team to follow me. By taking time out in the day solely for the thinking process, I have allowed myself to successfully manage my thoughts and become a self-disciplined leader.
Wondering how to acquire self-discipline or how self-discipline can successfully grow your career?
What is self-discipline?
Firstly, self-discipline is one of the most important component of leadership. Self-discipline develops in you set ways for your thoughts, actions and habits. Self-discipline means doing what needs to be done when you don’t feel like doing it. In addition, it means that you accept your responsibilities and accomplish your goals because they are the best profitable option but not because you want to.
Self-discipline implies self-management or self-control, self-motivation, self-reliance, self-confidence and self-awareness and eventually, remains the basis for trust.
Secondly, self-discipline is an acquired skill, has several degrees to it and is not achieved overnight. It has to be practised to become easier, to create routine and structure.
Lastly, early responsibilities in life, small tasks and assignments, given by parents or managers, allow people to gain discipline from a young age and shape their character.
Characteristics of self-disciplined leaders
Self-disciplined leaders are successful and ultimately become better at what they do. They are active, self-controlled, organized, are able to censor themselves and to build great relationships.
Leaders use self-discipline to sharpen their willpower and decisions making skills, to command respect from others and to lead by example, to achieve their goals regardless of their feelings, to gain profit and to look beyond hard work, to stick to their decisions, to evaluate themselves and place boundaries, to compartmentalize their emotions. Furthermore, self-disciplined leaders have no fear of the future, are respected and dependable.
Self-disciplined leaders practise thoughts management, emotional intelligence, time management, character building, self-awareness and team building until they turn those soft skills into habits.
HABIT #1: MIND MANAGEMENT
Your thoughts, negative or positive, become your reality whether you want it or not. Self-disciplined leaders have peace of mind, no matter the situation. For self-disciplined leaders, controlling your emotions is barely about becoming stoic, but about acknowledging your emotions, understanding them and keeping them in check before acting on them.
In order to control your thoughts:
- Nurture your mind with the right stimuli, with empowering thoughts and success stories. Remove distractions from your workspace. Block social media sites during working hours.
- Train your brain to handle different situations, and to prepare for both positive and negative outcomes.
- Meditate or turn to religion. Meditation brings a sense of contentment and allows you to accept and deal with your thoughts. In religion, controlling your thoughts is more about admitting God’s control over us and relinquishing our problems and emotions to Him. Which is why you need to keep your eyes on God and your focus on your purpose.
- Forgive yourself for past mistakes, let go of grudges and regrets, and keep moving forward.
HABIT #2: EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
Self disciplined leaders don’t allow their choices and decisions to be dictated by their impulses or feelings.
- enhance their logical and emotional skills to be able to make sound decisions,
- control their facial expressions,
- resist and reject negative feelings,
- handle stressful situations, conflicts and toxic individuals in a healthy manner,
- adopt positive attitudes and behaviors.
To discipline your emotions:
- Control your thoughts and don’t leave them on autopilot. Pay close attention to your habits, especially in negative situations. Identify which behaviors you consider undisciplined and those that reflect your values ans goals.
- Change your self talk.
- Meditate on a daily basis, a least 10 minutes a day, to quiet the mind, gain serenity and suppress regrets.
- Cultivate gratitude. This will help you transform negative circumstances into positives.
- Change your sources of data that you intake and abstain from vain entertainment.
- Change or increase your social circle to individuals who possess the qualities and skills that you wish to acquire.
- Manage your health by taking care of the essentials. Your mind and body are interconnected and the health of the one impacts the other.
- Sleep healthy hours and develop a steady night routine. Set an alarm at the same time everyday, put your phone in an unreachable area, don’t hit the snooze button.
- Acquire a healthy diet.
- Exercise regularly instead of procrastinating and drown your negative thoughts with dopamine.
HABIT #3: SELF-AWARENESS:
Self-discipline allows leader to monitor their behavior in various situations and to assess their strengths and weaknesses, to find their purpose.
Without being aware of your strengths, you are unable to lead effectively. Trying to emulate another leader’s style, strengths destroys your natural talent, your uniqueness, your personality and your therefore your chances for success.
Furthermore, most leaders are blind to their own strengths and weaknesses. Some lead thinking that they possess a particular set of strengths and others lead blind to their own weaknesses.
Get to know yourself at a deeper level, increase your confidence, become more self-aware and quiet your ego:
- Renew your thought pattern, invest in your personal growth and don’t allow setbacks to mentally set you back.
- Reverting back to the memories of your childhood and recalling what you did well and with pleasure.
- Look for a common thread in the things that immediately and sustainably attract your attention throughout your life experiences.
- Read books and gain knowledge.
- Hire a professional to help identify your strengths and how to employ them.
- Take well-known online tests, such as StrenghtsFinder2.0 and StandOut, and cross-reference them.
- Asking the people closest to you.
- Surround yourself with supporting people. Stay away from yes men, undermining people or groups.
- Seek the truth about yourself and be unafraid of failure or the said truth.
HABIT #4: TIME MANAGEMENT
Successful individuals manage their time effectively to ensure that they accomplish their goals, allocate and maximize their time. In the workplace, missing deadlines irritates and disrupts everyone on the team and makes you appear non accountable. So, to manage your time effectively:
- Define an achievable specific goal and apply timelines to it to create overviews of the milestones you wish to achieve. If you don’t have deadlines, create some for yourself.
- Make time to achieve your personal goals, follow-up on schedule and meet deadlines. Do not procrastinate, find excuses to postpone your work or allow anyone to distract you and squander your time. Instead, stay busy and focused, and put in the hours required to accomplish your goals.
- Prioritize your personal goals and accomplish the most important ones before hand.
- Implement a routine and stay focused on the prize.
- Make time to be proactive. With an increase in leadership responsibilities, people start pulling the leader in different directions, and the leader ends up doing more of what people desire than what is necessary to be done. Carve out an hour in the day or choose a day in the week to isolate or insulate yourself and execute your tasks that matter.
- Make time for yourself. Carve out another hour in your day to recharge your batteries to be more productive and efficient as a leader for your team. You may have to arrive earlier to work.
- Respect other people time.
HABIT #5: CHARACTER BUILDING:
Not all hardworking and talented beings are disciplined. Therefore, not all hardworking and talented beings are successful.
On one hand, self-discipline helps in creating routine and structure, holding yourself and others to a high standard ( integrity and respect), remaining accountable for your actions on your job, executing your job in detail and delivering on time.
Self-discipline also increases maturity and builds stamina and resistance to walk down the leader’s path. That means that you can take a licking and keep on ticking.
On the other hand, self-discipline makes you resilient. You are empowered to stick to your decision, are able to get up when you are knocked down and to keep going when you hear “no”.
Building character is a gradual process:
- Be consistent with your values (integrity)
- Tenacity is also key. Don’t be discouraged or perturbed by obstacles, by failures, by the illusion that your goals are unreachable. Instead, resist the urges of giving in or giving up.
- Read, listen, watch motivational elements. For faithful people, turning to your belief system is a great way to stay on track.
- Draw lessons from your mistakes.
- Monitor what you say. If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything.
HABIT #6: RELATIONSHIP & TEAM BUILDING
Being disciplined allows leaders to command respect from others, to work well with their team members, to handle interactions with employees or customers judiciously.
In order to minimize supervisors intervention:
- Define your responsibilities or tasks, avoid stepping on anybody’s toes, delegate tasks appropriately,
- Play by the rules, treat your team members as adults and with respect,
- Look out for the best interests of the company and your team members,
- Coach your team, promote self-discipline amongst them, encourage innovative ideas without even if they fail,
- Share your performance expectations with your employees and help them direct their focus towards achieving their goals
- Address unacceptable behaviors immediately without punishing or humiliating the perpetrators,
- Model yourself as the best leader, avoid taking your job for granting or taking credit for team success or outstanding performance, and stay humble and .
HABIT #7: EXECUTION, MOTIVATION & STRUCTURE
Self-discipline brings predictability, consistency and order to the leader. Self-discipline captures the meaning of the word expectancy and provides the leader with latitude for risk assessment and management.
To create structure and improve task execution:
- If you are somehow already disciplined in executing task, share your timeline and your attention to detail with others and help them pick up the slack without micro managing.
- Clearly, your order brings a sense of control to the team. However, don’t impose your discipline to anyone else.
- Focus on starting tasks rather than completing them.
- Follow through on your ideas and finish what you have started. Also, track your progress: record the starting time and the end time of your tasks.
- Execute your plan in silence, and respect yourself enough to put your money where your mouth is and to come through on your promises
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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