Visit Our Store October 1, 2009
“Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates. There’s plenty of movement, but you never know if it’s going to be forward, backwards, or sideways.” — H. Jackson Brown, Jr
When you look at your career direction, what do you see? Are you headed in the right direction? Whatever your long term goals are, self-discipline is the single most important tool to help you accomplish them. Sharpening the saw on your self-discipline will also help you be a more effective manager in the meantime. There may be a time when you decide to purposefully change your course, and that is okay. But until then, what can you do to practice self-discipline, and how can you use it to be a more effective manager for your employees?
How to sharpen your own self-discipline:
Revisit your goals each day. Visualize yourself accomplishing your goals. The power of a clear vision will help jettison you toward your career goal. Take that vision seriously by doing something to help that dream become a reality.
Enlist a network. Start to use networks of friends and colleagues in your goals. Their support, encouragement and insight will aid your persistence. It might even help you find a connection that you need!
Recover quickly. Force yourself to recover from failure. It is unlikely that you will reach your goal without any failed attempts or risks, so jump in and be ready to bounce back.
Now, how do you transfer your acumen for self-discipline into a work environment that promotes self-discipline on its own? You are probably like most managers, in that taking disciplinary action is one of the least favorite parts of your job. That is why promoting an environment of self discipline is so valuable.
How to foster an environment of self-discipline:
1. Provide a thorough training program. By providing and fostering a comprehensive training program you are setting the tone for continuous improvement. Of course, careful analysis of what training program will result in ROI is critical. If chosen strategically, you will get the return on your training investment and much more—a demonstration of your priorities as a manager and organization.
2. Clarify expectations. This seems obvious, but clarifying expectations in this case expands on the expectations you have for job performance and task completion. It also means that you should clarify your expectations of continuous improvement, employee initiatives and problem solving.
3. Fan the flame of positive behavior. Catch people handling situations positively and taking action on their own. Reward them in whatever way you can, even if all you can do is give praise. If you are able to offer monetary rewards, time off or increased professional development opportunities, all the better.
4. React positively to new ideas. Is your workplace open to new ideas? Give any new idea some air time, whether it is implemented or not. This encourages people to take ownership over their work domain, and pursue their own goals, without you driving their motivation.
5. Keep a beat on your staff members. Do this by meeting with them regularly. These weekly meetings are typical, but often get pushed aside during busy periods. This sends the message that the meeting is unimportant. Emphasize how much you care about meeting with your staff members by setting their weekly update meeting in stone. Use this time to make sure projects are flowing and to take the pulse on how they are doing.
Click on the Action Steps and print them out to get started fostering an environment of self-discipline in your workplace!
As a leader, you are likely the main mediator when there is conflict in your group, department or organization. None of us wants conflict to escalate, but in the throes of complex business situations the relationships related to them, people often become deeply invested in their version of a situation.
Not intervening is usually not an option if you value your positive culture. Since your mediation and intervention skills are critical, let’s take a look at what you should do to navigate the waters of employee conflict.
Solve the conflict head-on. Avoidance is futile, because conflicts don’t usually resolve themselves. Even if the situation passes, the bad feelings will contaminate future projects, so you may as well handle them as they arise.
Be a solution-focused manager. Assure both parties that you are confident in their ability to resolve their issues. Follow that up that sentiment with letting them know that you will remain objective, and that you expect them to resolve their conflict proactively. This will set the tone for the discussion.
Take ownership of the conflict. As the leader, you should be asking yourself what in your environment allowed this type of conflict to fester and develop. The answers you come up with will give you the tools you need to decrease future conflicts.
Always meet with the antagonists together. A separate narrative on the situation from each party is likely to polarize the situation. Moreover, you must avoid the perception that either party is able to garner more sympathy from you.
Ask for action. Ask each party to list specific actions they would like the other side to take, in order to resolve this conflict and move on. This should be a short discussion between the two sides, and you should only intervene if the discussion becomes accusatory.
One of your most challenging roles as a leader may be to resolve conflict. If you intervene appropriately you will gain respect and foster a positive work environment. You will be glad that you took action!
This time we had the opportunity to sit down with Ryan Quinn, coauthor of Lift, Becoming a Positive Force in Any Situation (Berret-Kohler, 2009). He is also assistant professor of business administration at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, where he teaches in the MBA and Executive Education programs.
I noticed that you co-wrote Lift with your father. How did that process work?
Actually, my father contacted me about a rough draft that he had written. He was heading out of the country to do some mission work and asked me if I would like to complete the book.
We have fairly different backgrounds, so I took his great ideas and turned them on their head. You see, my background is in social sciences, and I really come to this topic from that
perspective. I think the book is better for having both perspectives. We’re very happy with the end result.
The main message of Lift is to learn how to become a positive force. Can you give us a break down of how you convey that in the book?
Sure. Throughout the book we utilized the Wright brothers as an example of positive force. their story fit perfectly with “lift,” because it is full of great examples of shifting expectations of ourselves and others, maintaining an ideal vision and being internally directed, amongst other ideas.
I noticed that you also added personal stories and all of your assertions are backed up by research.
Yes, that is where my social sciences background kicked in. Some readers respond more to research and others to personal stories, but the message is the same–Everyone has experienced a state of lift at one time or another.
We present the key questions that you can ask about any situation that will help you harness your positive energy and reshape your way of thinking to realize higher and more positive levels of influence.
The book offers the reader the ability to enlist a completely new process for evaluating problems and challenges. We we look forward to reading your next title!
A executive team for a large company sent their senior managers to a seminar on quality. Understandably, the executives were fully expecting that quality, productivity and overall performance would improve as a result of having sent their senior managers to the seminar.
As time marched on, enthusiasm for the seminar waned, because the executive team could not identify any quantifiable quality-related improvements. They couldn’t figure out why the such a well-known and respected program didn’t work for their own organization. They even resorted to sending a subgroup of managers back for a refresher course, but the results remained flat.
Why did this initiative fail? What could have been done to avoid the disappointing outcome in this situation?
If you were Sharon, how would you handle this situation? Send in your solution!
This entertaining, story-driven book, written by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval (Broadway Books, 2009), is a best seller that has earned its stripes. The main message is that our smallest actions and gestures often have an impact on our biggest goals.
The authors entreat us to take the time to help others, even in the smallest ways, such as holding a door, making copies for a colleague who is in a hurry, or taking an extra minute to review an email before clicking the send button.
The Power of Small shows us all how we can “improve or reinvent” our lives through the power of small gestures. The writing style is conversational and the use of anecdotes throughout the book show the reader real examples of how we can utilize “the power of small” in our own work and personal lives. This title gets two thumbs up!