8 Executive Leadership Disciplines Practiced by Top Leaders

8 Executive Leadership Disciplines Practiced by Top Leaders 150 150 Jennifer Ledet
Public speaking, budgeting, participating in team building exercises, and other necessary but not-so-loved daily business tasks are kind of like an exercise or weight lifting program. If you don’t push yourself to do it frequently – regardless of whether you feel like it – you lose strength and muscle tone. You know the old adage, “If you don’t use it, you lose it!” And to work out daily, you must have a degree of self-discipline.

What if I told you leadership is also like a muscle that needs to be exercised and worked out daily? Actually, executive leadership is a collection of disciplines. These disciplines are not complicated or complex, but they must be practiced consistently until they become habit or second nature. Jim Rohn believed,

We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces, while regret weighs tons.

Executive leaders, managers, and many bosses naturally prefer to hang out in their comfort zone, doing only those things that they enjoy or those in which they excel. That’s too bad, because those are “career-limiting moves.” (Again, see Jim Rohn quote above.)

Discipline is about doing the right things especially when you don’t feel like it.

We are often, for example, more comfortable working on our own little island, with as little human connection as possible, but we make it a habit to connect with team members on a regular basis. Yep. Even if you don’t feel like it. Even if you are not particularly good at it.

I’ll review some of the leadership disciplines that I believe are important and train my clients to try. You no doubt will have some that you’d add to this list, but I figured I’d get the conversation started.

Great executive leaders consistently:

1. Put their oxygen mask on first. It may seem pretty obvious, but you have got to take care of yourself. I see so many leaders who are burning the candle at both ends. Eat right, exercise, and most importantly, get some rest and true relaxation! Unless you think the whole screaming like a banshee and having a complete meltdown-thing is working for you, in which case, I say, er, good luck with all of that!

2. Do their homework. The first person you need to be able to lead is yourself. Take the time and effort necessary to understand your own strengths and limitations so that you can build your self-confidence. Ask for feedback and monitor how you are coming across to others.

3. Empower others. Whenever and wherever you can, give autonomy within appropriate parameters. Let team members flourish. When you give power, you actually gain it. (Check out my previous blog post on this topic)

4. Monitor their words and actions. You are being watched! Every move you make, every word you say is being “recorded” and people will follow your lead.

5. Do what they say they will do. Do I need to explain the importance of keeping your word? I didn’t think so. Nuff said.

6. Recognize and thank team members. Think about the last time you got a hearty pat on the back from someone important. Didn’t you sit up taller and strive harder? A little acknowledgement and appreciation can go a long way towards encouraging a team member.

7. Ask more than tell. This can be tough, especially if it’s not your natural style. Rather than always telling people the answer/solution, coach your team members and help them to develop their own critical thinking skills. You know, the old “teach a man to fish” thing.

8. Engage in personal and professional development. Listen to podcasts and audio-books on your commute or while vacuuming, read, attend seminars and workshops, and, well, read some more. I would suggest that you literally schedule your personal development time.

Effective leaders practice all types of different disciplines. Remember that practice doesn’t make perfect, but practice makes permanent. Just as in diet and exercise, consistency is the key.


What leadership disciplines have I missed that you would add to this list? Share your thoughts with us below!

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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems


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