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Discipline: The Authentic Leader’s Not-So-Secret Weapon

I watched his face as he excitedly explained his latest idea. It was obvious he was thoroughly sold on the concept.

I saw the value in the idea, and realized it would require long-term work and consistent refinement to see its full potential.

I asked a single question: “How are you going to discipline yourself to ensure this idea is still going strong next year?”

His eyes lost their sparkle. His energy quickly drained. Idea shut down.

The problem was he liked the idea but the work to implement and ensure success wasn’t sexy enough to make the idea worth it.

Great ideas require discipline.

Authentic leaders don’t just identify a good idea, they consider it with “future eyes” and look to understand the needed discipline to make it successful.

In short, authentic leaders are in it for the long haul.

This doesn’t mean you’re planning to remain in the same position until you retire, but it does mean you’re putting processes in place to support whoever is in your position in the future.

The long haul requires discipline, or in authentic leadership terms, balanced processing and relational transparency.

Balanced processing requires input from stakeholders to make the most balanced decisions possible with the available information.

Relational transparency requires that once a decision is made, regular and transparent communication exists to keep everyone informed.

To be more specific, the long haul includes, but is definitely not limited to:

  • Bringing your team (including administration) on board as early as possible. Without buy-in the long haul is not happing. Period.

  • Thinking through current technology initiatives and identifying needed upgrades and/or platform changes to support success over time. This is paramount.

  • Determining how much of the idea can be delegated. Many leaders put new initiatives on their plate without giving others the chance to develop and grow in the name of “getting it done right.” Do yourself, your packed calendar, and your team a favor; delegate responsibility and encourage growth.

  • Schedule accountability checks with the responsible party(ies). If responsibility is assigned without requiring accountability, success is not likely. Set up check-in points for the next year so you don’t have to think about it, and your team knows when they are to report on progress. As a clarification, these calendar invites should include the specifics of what is to be included in the progress report so expectations are clear.

  • Updating processes. This requires not only updating what is completed each day, but also reviewing and updating procedure manuals to accommodate successful turn over. This also ensures the system is maintained outside of specific individuals. Few things are more painful than someone leaving with most/all of their job knowledge only in their head.


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