Developing the Traits of a Leader, Part 1 – June 2006
By Sean Wolfington
Developing the Traits of a Leader, Part 1
Look at any leader and you’ll notice he or she has developed a collection of traits that have helped him or her arrive at the top – at a place where they are considered one of the best, if not the best, at what they do.
These leadership traits include discipline, the ability to prioritize, to build trust, the ability to in.uence others and to cast vision. In this article we will look closely at the ability to build self-discipline and examine the other leadership traits in future articles.
No matter how gifted a leader is, his gifts will never reach their maximum potential without the application of self-discipline. Self-discipline is a key to success. Self-discipline often means doing more than what’s necessary, what you need to do to prepare and to grow even when it’s tough and it hurts and when you’d rather do something else. Self-discipline means refusing to quit. A person who refuses to quit knows that their job begins when others stop trying.
Self-discipline positions a leader to go to the highest level and is a key to leadership that lasts. If you want to become a leader for whom self-discipline is an asset, here are a few action points:
Challenge Your Excuses
To make self-discipline part of your lifestyle, you must challenge and eliminate any tendency to make excuses. Some common ones include, “I don’t have time,” “I have too many responsibilities,” “I don’t know how to” or “I’m not good at.” You get the picture and can probably think of a few more. The worst excuse of all is “I have to … (you .ll in the blank)” because it conveys a victim attitude. Change “have” to “choose” and watch your excuse slip away. If you have several reasons why you can’t be self-disciplined, realize that they are really just a bunch of excuses and challenge each and every one of them to get to the next level as a leader.
Remove Rewards Until the Task is Done
Any industry that pays goof-offs and go-getters equally will sooner or later . nd itself with more goof-offs than go-getters. If you lack self-discipline you may be in the habit of expecting your rewards before hitting your target. In today’s culture of instant grati.cation this can be easier said than done. Today, people reward themselves with fast food that requires no preparation, they charge major purchases without the resources to pay for them and they have access to anything and everything at a moment’s notice. It would appear to go against our very culture to reserve a reward until after the job is done, but those who do will .nd that self-discipline becomes part of the .ber of their character.
Stay Focused on Results
Anyone who focuses on the difficulty of the work instead of its promised results or rewards will easily become discouraged. Discouragement breeds procrastination, and if a person dwells on those dif. culties too long they develop self-pity rather than self-discipline. The next time you’re facing a critical task and you .nd yourself thinking of how daunting it is, and this leads you to thinking of doing what’s convenient to avoid paying the price of the hard work ahead, change your focus. Count the bene. ts of doing what’s right and then dive in.
Do Right and You Will Feel Right
Self-discipline has rewards other than just getting results. It feels good to do good and the people who do whatever it takes to do things right enjoy the process and the outcome a lot better than those who cut corners. As you do the big and little things right, it builds your internal architecture and character, but if you take short cuts that make you more comfortable in the moment, it tears down that internal architecture that holds up your character and self esteem. The most important tasks are the small ones that no one knows about but you. By doing the little things well, we prepare ourselves for the big things and each job well done outside the sight of others is a private victory that strengthens our self-discipline and character.
You may have talent and you might even see a lot of motion, but without self-discipline you’ll see little sustained and concrete results. So start challenging your excuses, reserve your rewards until the dif.cult tasks are done and stay focused on the results and you will .nd yourself building self-discipline and success as a leader today.
Sean Wolfington is the owner of BZResults.com. He can be contacted at 866.802.5753, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.