Leadership Insight No 45

Businesswoman pointing
Leadership Insight No 44
4th Jul 2016
Woman standing on mountain
Leadership Insight No 20
2nd Sep 2016

Leadership Insight No 45

“Those that cannot obey, cannot command.” – Benjamin Franklin
Commentary Carl Zuckmeyer once glibly surmised, “One half of life is luck; the other half is discipline – and that’s the important half, for without discipline you wouldn’t know what to do with luck”. We all need regulation. In this current age it seems that everything is about my rights and me. People seem to be more concerned about their privileges than their responsibilities. However, this legalistic attitude does not bear any resemblance to real life. My personal view is that if you don’t take responsibility you have no rights. William Feather remarked, “If we don’t discipline ourselves, the world will do it for us.” We need discipline to achieve. Question any top class athlete. To ensure that everybody participates equally, uphold your authority. Everybody has a little ‘rebel’ inside and it is human nature to try shortcuts and the ‘easier’ path. They often neglect essential procedures in an endeavour to make life easier for themselves at the expense of the team or task. We also find those with a ‘devil may care’ or a ‘chip on the shoulder’ attitude. Then there are the ones who gossip and malign other team members. Jealousy within the group is another team buster. A lack of discipline causes dissension and also encourages others to follow suit. As leaders, set the boundaries and take decisive, swift action when those parameters have been breached. Ensure you have an intimate working knowledge of the disciplinary procedures allowed by law and then apply them without hesitation. Where there are no consequences for bad conduct or performance, people will not be held accountable and as a result, will not change. Psychologically people are also a lot more at ease in a disciplined environment. They know where they stand and there is security in order. Regulation also provides a healthy platform for morale and has the effect of bonding people together within a team; (look at any well-drilled sports squad). They are bound by the same code and each person’s role is defined. Employees having discipline feel a lot better about themselves and are more likely to achieve – their minds are centred on the task and there is no room for vacillation. And let me hasten to add that discipline is not about shouting at people. That’s abuse of power. It is about quietly letting each employee know the difference between what is right and what is unacceptable. If they step over the line then immediately institute corrective procedures. Neglect to enforce your rules and you do so at your peril. You will be regarded as inconsistent and weak and employees will lose their respect for you. Further, having disciplined a subordinate, move on and do not dwell on their previous faults. Nick Mallett who was the Springbok rugby coach in the late 90’s imparted that on tour he would get the team to discipline any member guilty of misdemeanours – not a bad concept. Share the leadership amongst the responsible players. “Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.” – Roy L Smith