The word discipline can have an ugly and often negative connotation. For leaders however, using positive discipline is an essential element of effective productivity and performance. For our purposes we define discipline as the process of controlling one’s behavior or actions. Leaders should consider the following three areas of positive discipline.
Self-discipline: This is the process of controlling your own behaviors and actions to accomplish what’s most important to you. Self-discipline allows you to accomplish and remain accountable for accomplishing set goals. Some people resist goals and self-discipline because they have a mistaken notion that it restricts freedom. However, once you understand that there is no absolute freedom, (you have to be a slave to the toothbrush or you will be a slave to tooth decay) accepting positive discipline becomes easier because it’s simply about the choices you make.
The style used to apply self-discipline can be different for each individual, with some incorporating regimentation as part of their self-discipline routine. Be cautious not to mistake regimentation for discipline. You can be committed to your objectives without being subservient to strict structure and parameters, such as being committed to completing a project by a certain day but being flexible as to what time of day you work on it. Regimentation without discipline is busy work. You may commit to reading industry journals every day at 6:15 AM but if you find your mind wandering at that time you may not be using this time effectively. However, regimentation can sometimes be used to train yourself to be more disciplined; a timely structure may help develop the habits of commitment to the goal. The key is using both regimentation and discipline in the right mix to help you best control your actions and behaviors to accomplish what’s most important to you.
Corporate Discipline: This is the process of controlling behaviors and actions to achieve the organization’s objectives. Corporate discipline requires clarity of mission and purpose. This is defined by key factors, including organization goals, tracking and reporting on goals, feedback, adherence to budgets, timeliness of meetings and projects, defined procedures and systems, and practicing organization principles and values. These elements provide the framework to allow the flexibility for each individual to shine and their efforts be multiplied in order to reach organization objectives.
Employee Discipline: This is the process of controlling behaviors and actions to achieve team and organizational goals. When individual employees fail to perform or comply with defined procedures or regulations, positive discipline is required. The five steps of applying positive discipline with employees are:
- Identifying the problem: Defining the problem clearly and specifically as a real issue.
Analyzing the severity: Defining the business or organizational impact of the issue.
Discussing the problem: Having an effective conversation with the individual about the situation, starting with communicating the problem and business impact, and obtaining the employee’s commitment to correct the problem.
Documenting the feedback: Making sure the discussion and potential solution are captured for your records and communicated to the individual.
Following up: Monitoring the situation to see if it’s been resolved, providing appreciation if it has and corrective action if it has not.
In almost any circumstance, discipline is a crucial factor for delivering the highest level of performance and maximizing your potential. Take some time to ask yourself how you are performing and make adjustments as necessary. Use positive discipline effectively in all three areas to significantly improve your managing impact.