Archive for July, 2008

How to instill discipline as a leader discipline is required to be successful in anything in life whether it’s leading, losing weight or following rules and regulations to name a few

How to Instill Discipline As A Leader

Discipline is required to be successful in anything in life whether it’s Leading, losing weight or following rules and regulations to name a few. So how do we develop discipline?

It’s a daily practice of consistency and absolutely refusing to look the other way for any reason or excuse that you may consider. Is it possible for one leader to enforce discipline and another’s failure to without confusing your team? Yes, the leader that is consistent with expectations can make it work regardless of what others do. If you have read any of my articles then you know I am big on offering examples and this article will be the same.

 People that work with you understand the expectations and habits of their leaders, they are quite intelligent and typically follow the lead. Example’s being Joe the Leader is pretty laid back and turns his head the other direction when he see’s breakdown’s in discipline, he doesn’t like confrontation and wants to be popular. If you look at the respect he is given I assure you it isn’t very high and like wise his results reflect the same. Sam on the other hand is strict, consistent and fair. He will not hesitate to make a correction to anyone; everyone knows and understands his expectations. He isn’t the most popular leader but he is without question the most respected as through his actions he demands respect. Sam doesn’t pound his chest or brag about himself but you always know when he is on duty as he practices what he preaches.  People respect that he has been observed tactfully correcting people senior to him which takes courage and character. The key being he doesn’t ask anyone to follow any rules that he doesn’t follow himself. A few examples being if there is a dress code or specific rules he sets the example day in and day out consistently. When you follow Sam’s day of work you always can expect everything to be done properly and walk into a great situation. When you follow Joe’s day of work it’s very obvious, you can depend on a load of work to get prepared for the day. Sam is actually developing future leaders for advanced responsibilities while Joe is promoting laziness and extremely poor discipline.

 So what do you think, should you be firm, fair and consistent or prefer to be popular and have your team probably laughing  behind your back and probably to your face if you look close enough.

Most senior managers will acknowledge the importance of having the support, loyalty and ideas of their subordinates

Most Senior Managers will acknowledge the importance of having the support, loyalty and ideas of their subordinates.  A company of any size cannot sustain growth on the back of one person.  Without a team effort the entrepreneurial spark can be extinguished in the rainstorm of turmoil created by success.

     Desirable employees want positions that satisfy an interest or because they are excited about where a company is going.  They want to be a part of the accomplishment.  The enthusiasm they bring to the table is vital to the creativity that sustains growth.  Merle Crowell stated this eloquently; “It’s the men behind who ‘make’ the man ahead.”

     So how does a manager on this walk through the corporate jungle end up squishing creativity like a bug?  The fundamental building blocks to success are easily stifled.  Here are some suggestions on how you can smother any chance of being a successful manager.

     First – Fail to acknowledge the importance of other people.  Take credit for all creative thinking and problem solving.  “Protect” your subordinates from the scrutiny of top management by never conceding the part they played in your latest accomplishment.  Deceive yourself in to believing that they take pride in serving you and that your light is enough to keep them tanned.

     Second – Do not ask other people’s opinions.  After all who knows more about running your department than you?  That’s right.  How could someone toiling in the trenches with no Big Picture mentality possibly grasp situations and problems as well as you?  Believe that you alone have the candlepower to illuminate the dark crevices that big problems create.   

     Third – Give your opinion first, forcefully and often.  It is imperative for your subordinates to know where you stand.  Won’t they be like sailors at sea without a compass if you don’t give them direction?  Naturally they will turn to you for guidance.  Why wait?  Give them the answers before they ask the questions.  Remember, no one knows more about the operation than you. 

     If any of the behaviors in the last three paragraphs seem a tad similar to your own management style, then you may be guilty of squishing the bug.  People need…not just want, but need…approval.  This is a fundamental principle of human behavior.  To maximize our potential, we all need recognition.  George Houston clearly summarized what happens when a manager fails to encourage subordinates when he said, “Anything that interferes with individual progress ultimately will retard group progress.”

     The primary role of a Senior Manager should be the development of those who report to him.  It is through their growth that the company will prosper.  Now that we’ve identified how to manage people poorly, let’s look at how to get the most out of all your employees.

     First – Acknowledge the importance of people.  William James, the Father of modern psychology said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”  Repeated surveys have shown that employees leave companies most often not because of salary but because of lack of recognition.  The effective manager gives credit to whom it’s due.  Try catching people performing well.  Praise noteworthy behavior.  Smile more.  You don’t need to carry pom poms and become a cheerleader.  But you must take responsibility for the morale of your department.

     Second – Ask other people’s opinions.  I once owned a medium sized manufacturing company that supplied the hospitality industry.  We were having some serious issues in our shipping department that nobody seemed to be able to solve.  I presented the problem in an open meeting and a nineteen year old kid who had been working for me about three weeks came up with a solution that was elegant in it’s simplicity.  We were in the forest, he saw the tree!  Tap the creativity and differing perspectives of all your employees.  Take every opportunity to ask and then listen.  The benefit is incalculable. 

     Third – Foster creativity by allowing open discussion of any and all possible solutions.  At the Leader’s Institute we call this Green-Light thinking.  It is the quantity not quality of ideas that is emphasized.  There are no wrong answers in this process.  Your role is to encourage the free wheeling generation of ideas.  If you defer judgment, people will hitchhike a solution on another idea that had little merit. In this atmosphere the magic of creativity flourishes.  When the process plays itself out (no more than 10 minutes), then have the group begin to winnow the possible solutions down.  Again it is important for you to allow the group to make the judgments.  You might prompt thought by asking questions.  For example, “What effect could this solution have on other departments?” or “How much might that cost?”  When the group has selected the most effective solution then work on specific steps toward implementation.

     In closing, I’d like to quote Dr. Marcus Bach, “Success, or failure, very often arrives on wings that seem mysterious to us.” It is up to every manager to serve as the conduit rather than the short circuit of creativity. 

Learning is a continues process and the process of learning is hurting and painful, so if you are willing to learn take the courage to be hurt and endure the pain

     Learning is a continues process and the process of learning is hurting and painful, so if you are willing to learn take the courage to be hurt and endure the pain. Great leaders had many set backs in the past. They learn from their mistakes. The processed was very painful, yet they survived and  because they wanted to learn they endure the pain, consequently leadership skill was developed. 

     What made the process painful? Along the journey of life only strong leader could say thanks when being criticized, that inspite of the pain of putting down their pride they consider it as an opportunity to learn. Great leaders know what they do not know. If you do not know what you do not know then it’s an opportunity to hear comments from others. 

     Being open to comments does not make you the weakest person, but the strongest one. Being great doesn’t mean you are always perfect and strong, but humble enough to say sorry when you realized you commit mistake. People are not perfect that they can easily give comments when their leaders made mistakes. But a great leader upon hearing many comments would just say thank you so much guys and I’m pleased to hear your comments  anyway you are my friends.

    Strong leader treats everyone his friend. He considers business rivals a challenge to promote  his business. Strong leader are human that they can be hurt also, the only difference is… they are willing to learn. When leaders begin to learn, the hurt and pain starts to end.  What a process!!!

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