In one word, the greatest challenge for leaders of the 21st century is “self-discipline.” Self-discipline is defined as the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses; the ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it. These are three abilities that form the foundation for exceptional leadership. Let’s look at each…
1) The ability to control one’s feelings: When leaders do not have the skills to gage, identify and manage their emotional barometer their leadership path is strewn with struggle and conflict. Those close to these leaders never know what to expect and must deal the fallout from their over-reactive natures. Not only is their ability to adeptly handle a crisis impaired, they often self-perpetuate unnecessary ones.
2) The ability to overcome one’s weaknesses: The first step requires a willingness to admit they have them. When in a leadership role a person often turns a blind eye to their shortcomings for fear of being perceived as weak. Therefore, denial is their most glaring weakness. This major flaw affects every decision they make and action they take. It causes them to find blame outside themselves. The wheels keep turning but going nowhere.
3) The ability to pursue what one thinks is right despite temptations to abandon it. Leadership asks that you be the adult in the room – the mature and responsible leader who makes wise and sometimes difficult decisions based on the greater good. A leader who won’t run from challenges or take a shortcut because it’s easier. A leader who has developed an inner sense of knowing, which guides them is the “right” direction at all times.
Self-discipline is the critical key to leadership excellence. It does not only underscore the above three abilities, it affects all aspects of leading. Self-discipline is the essential characteristic needed on the path of self-realization – the fulfillment of one’s potential.
Imagine worldwide, leaders who work every day to uplift others through their humanity, social awareness and integrity. Leaders whose inner compass can guide us through difficult times and quell our fears. Leaders who are receptive to new approaches, methods and systems that will meet the needs of the 21st century.
This is possible with leaders who are willing walk the inward path, which leads to freedom from habits and unwanted behaviors that stand in the way of authentic and insightful leadership. The work of self-examination that results in emotional stability, solution-based thinking and access to critical insights.
“Knowing others is intelligence;
Knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength.
Mastering yourself is power.”
~Laozi, Chinese Philosopher