All leadership begins with self-leadership. Self-leadership employs intentional action in advance to ensure the right action happens when necessary.
Although some people are more naturally disciplined than others, for those who struggle with being disciplined, structures can be created that promote greater professional will. To help you get started, consider the following five disciplines of self-leadership.
1. Control time
The most basic expression of self-discipline is controlling your time in such a way that allows for the focus of your highest and best use of it. The effectiveness of leaders is limited by allowing others to set too much of the agenda. There is a wealth of material available to assist with time-management. However, there are some practices, such as predetermining blocks of time for your most important activities, that will promote a greater ability to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.
2. Fuel energy
One of the primary reasons for allowing unsolved problems to be swept under the carpet is a leader’s lack of energy. It is imperative to sustain the appropriate levels of energy to intercept entropy at its earliest stages.
The disciplines most commonly associated with fueling your energy often involve diet, exercise and sleep habits. Beyond these practices, build into your schedule opportunities to engage in things that put wind in your sails. What are the activities that energize you, and ignite your curiosity and passion? Consider engaging in reading, travel and networking opportunities.
3. Temper emotions
So much business literature references the all-important aspect of passion. However, at times it is critical to practice the discipline of being dispassionate, allowing a leader to protect the environment from becoming toxic and engaging in the wrong battles. Leaders should fuel their energy by investing in their passion, but keep things from running off the rails by not pouring gas on a volatile situation.
4. Focus words
Words are the most commonly used tools in the arsenal of leaders. The discipline of crafting or outlining scripts for crucial situations will assist in making sure that the words that flow from your mouth achieve the purpose of the right words at exactly the right time.
5. Use power
The fifth important discipline that must be an ongoing practice for leaders is disciplining power, particularly as it relates to knowing the source of authority. Are you building your power base from the positional role in the spa or your credibility with the people you lead? The authority of leaders rests in the relationships formed with the people they lead. The risk most often encountered when influencing people where there is a personal relationship is not maintaining the authority to exercise power.
All leadership begins with self-leadership. Practice the disciplines in each of the five areas of self-leadership, and you will possess an uncanny ability to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done.
Glenn Gutek is a speaker and CEO of Awake Consulting & Coaching, a firm that helps small businesses and organizations improve their leadership and business development. He is also the co-author of Wide Awake Leadership (Xlibris Corporation, 2007). Gutek can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-901-4357.