Self-discipline is at the very core of success. Because it is central to gain mastery over one’s personal and professional life, you can benefit from knowing what you can do as a leader in your organization to ensure that each member of your work team develops a strong sense of self-discipline. You are responsible for your team members’ knowing what to do, their having or developing the skills for how to do it, and guiding them and encouraging them to assume responsibility for doing it.
Your own attitude toward carrying out a positive approach to discipline determines how effectively you are able to influence members of your work team. Two important characteristics that command respect and earn you power to use that authority already have been identified. Keep these characteristics in mind as you interact with your work team:
- Always treat team members with dignity and respect. Harsh criticism or punishment creates short-lived fear motivation. Sometimes called coercive power, this kind of power may change the behavior momentarily, but usually leaves the team member hurt, angry, and resentful. A person with this mindset rarely becomes self-disciplined. In contrast, individuals who make changes because they want to are much more likely to provide their own internal motivation and assume responsibility for getting their work done.
- Focus on the behavior and take corrective action to help the team member get back on track. When someone has not followed the established procedures or has failed to meet productivity expectations, avoid harshly criticizing or punishing the person. Instead, focus on the behavior and identify the most appropriate action to help the team member get back on the pre-determined track of performance.
A common misconception is that discipline is primarily punishment and penalties. Although discipline includes enforcing established performance expectations that is just a part of a positive approach to discipline. Positive discipline means training to produce skills, habits, and attitudes that lead to successful performance. It is within this context that you can most effectively carry out the responsibilities of your position. When you train, instruct, encourage, and reinforce patterns of behavior that increase productivity, you are building a foundation for long-term growth and development. Explosive, destructive reactions are clearly not treating a team member with basic human dignity and respect. It greatly diminishes the hard-earned respect of the team leader and generally destroys the motivation of the team member.
A positive approach to discipline offers a decidedly superior way to work with and through people to accomplish desired results.
Reprinted from the LMI Total Leader™ Journal published for Leadership Management International, Inc. by Rutherford Communications.