Wednesday, September 5, 2012

It’s about Discipline

As the person in charge, a leader must remain in control - of themselves.  Emotions can be tricky and if we base our decisions on which way our mood swings pretty soon we’re going nowhere.  Furthermore, we will be seen as a chaotic, confused mess.  A leader must lead with discipline.  No, I don’t mean you get to spank the people under you.  Nice try, though.

I mean you need to be organized, have a structure to your plan, and be a stable, consistent person.  A leader needs to prove that he isn’t as fickle as the wind.  Discipline means that a leader will be able to hold it together even when he feels like tearing it apart.  Others around him may be allowing their emotions to dictate their behavior, but a leader must lead with a cool head because those under his authority are looking at him to set the tone for the course they are on.  They need to see his patience and calmness in the midst of storms.

I knew someone in management that lost it whenever the pressure hit.  He would yell and throw his little temper tantrum reminding me quite often of a little two-year old who didn’t get their way or like the girls when I say they can’t buy another pair of shoes.  He even resorted to name calling and ridicule.  Now a workplace already filled with tension was bubbling over with bad attitudes and grumbling.  More mistakes were made and the situation just became worse.  At this point, the manager ceased to be a leader and became a bully, instead.  After a few of these episodes, the people under him stopped paying attention to what he would say and few went out of their way to do anything extra in their job.  To be honest, most of the people just wanted to go home.

Now, this doesn’t mean a leader cannot have emotions, because emotions are part of who we are.  However, a leader needs to be able to control them in order to keep everyone doing their job to the best of their ability.  No one wants to follow someone who is unpredictable in their moods. Screaming at people may get a boss results, but it will lose him respect, as well.  That is never a fair trade.  A leader should be seen as a firm hand on the rudder guiding the crew safely where he wants, not as the sail jerking them with a fickle wind.  They’ll get somewhere, but not where they wish to be.

While a leader needs to lead with discipline instead of emotions, he must not lead with his head only.  A leader needs passion as well as compassion.  He needs to allow those under him to see that he is a leader with heart; that he cares about more than just the bottom line, and then he will gain faithful followers who will do whatever he needs.  As I said Monday, people will follow a leader who cares about them and what is going on in their lives.  As I grew the groups I was put in charge of, I made it a point to speak to each member individually, to know what was going on in their lives, what their dreams and goals were as well as their struggles and obstacles.  If I could help them achieve those dreams or overcome something, then I put my all into it.  As people saw that I cared about them, they in turn cared about me, and together we moved forward, accomplishing the vision of the group.

As a leader you want a fire for the journey you are taking people on, but one that enflames them with passion for the vision, not melts away their support.  You’ll accomplish that when you have discipline of yourself, for unless you can control yourself, you will never be able to control others.

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