7 Steps to Becoming a Disciplined Leader

Last week I wrote about what it is like to be a disciplined leader. Today I want to continue focusing on that topic by showing how you can develop that discipline in your own life.

Step One: Determine where you lack discipline.

Know your strengths and your weaknesses. If you have no problem showing up to work on time, count that as a strength. If you are always struggling to meet deadlines, that is a weakness. Choose only one or two weaknesses to work on at a time. If you are really brave, you may ask a colleague what some of your weaknesses as a leader are and work on those.

Step Two: Clarify your motivation.

As you consider the weakness you want to work on, what is your motivation? Why do you want to become more disciplined in this area? Is because someone else told you improvement was necessary? Or do you recognize the value discipline could bring to this area? If you are struggling to meet deadlines, your motivation for more discipline may be to have less anxiety or to have time to do a review of the project before the deadline so you do better work. Make sure you are convinced this is an are where you actually want to improve. Then your possibility for success will increase greatly.

Step Three: Sort out the problem.

Why is this an area of weakness? For example, why are you not meeting your deadlines? Are you procrastinating and putting in little effort until just before the deadline? Is it because of an inability to accurately estimate the the amount of time it will take you to work on the project? Once you figure out what the problem is then you can develop steps to improve.

Step Four: Develop a plan.

Let’s say you struggle to meet your deadline because you procrastinate. Develop a plan that gets you working on the project as soon as you take it on. Work back from the deadline and establish your own deadlines. You could also create your own deadline a week before it’s needed to give you time to review it. When reviewing your deadline, you can also break the job into smaller steps and set personal deadlines along the way that get you working on it sooner and keeps you going. These dates can lead up to your personal deadline and help you stay on track.

Another strategy is to actively develop better habits and create rituals that keep you on task. This could be creating more shorter deadlines for smaller parts of your projects. Maybe it could be working on your task first thing in the morning and checking emails or engaging in other tasks only at noon or at the end of the day.

Step Five: Remove distractions or temptations.

Why are you procrastinating? Are you always on you phone? Are you taking too many coffee breaks or constantly chatting with co-workers? Maybe set an alarm on your phone that reminds you to get back to work after a coffee break. Or leave your phone in your coat. Don’t check personal emails at work. Turn off notifications on your phone that continually remind you to check I through the day. Sometimes, it may be beneficial to close the door and pull the blinds so that you are not distracted by others who are walking by your office or chatting with each other. Find ways to remove distractions.

Step Six: Find an accountability partner, coach or mentor.

It helps to know that someone will be checking in on you. Ask someone on your team to check in with you occasionally to see how you are coming along. If you are the one in charge, maybe you have a secretary or personal assistant who can check in and remind you of deadlines you have set. Or hire a coach to check in with regularly.

Step Seven: Just keep on keeping on.

One who wants to learn discipline will continue to push through an try again and again even if they fail occasionally. Keep reminding yourself of your goals. And as you make progress, remind yourself of how far you have come. Did you meet that last deadline? Then celebrate it. If not, then figure out if some adjustment is needed and get back to the next task at hand. Don’t get down on yourself if you fall short. Forgive yourself and recommit to the plan.

Becoming a disciplined leader takes hard work, but you can do it as you work on one or two weaknesses at a time. As you do, you will become the disciplined leader you want to be.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Develop the Leadership Character of Discipline

Discipline is something you develop in yourself by deliberate and consistent decisions. It is not something a person automatically has but is a characteristic that must be learned and developed. Discipline is what helps maintain what is good in life and build on it to improve even more. It is developed by regularly choosing to make the necessary decisions and take the correct actions. A disciplined person may live by a rule or system of rules governing their conduct or activity. As you live by these good choices, you become a disciplined person.

A disciplined leader gets more done.

Many people put in the expected hours at work. Some get much more done in those hours than others. One reason is that the disciplined person knows how to keep breaks short and focus back on the task at hand.

A disciplined person starts on time, but also ends on time. Whether it is the start of your day or running a meeting, a disciplined person is prepared, ready to start when it is time, and focused enough to accomplish what is needed in the necessary time.

A disciplined leader develops good habits.

Self-discipline is the ability to control your behavior in a way that leads you to be more productive or have better habits. Systems or rituals can help you organize the activities you regularly do into an orderly fashion that eliminates time spent deciding what to do next or how to do it. These rituals can be as simple as cleaning off your desk before going home at night so it is not cluttered when you return in the morning. A ritual could include taking 10 minutes to plan the next day so you are ready when you arrive in the office the next day.

Systems are the habits that are packaged together, like a series of procedures.  An example may be a system for tracking meeting decisions and action items. This might include transferring all dates discussed in the meeting onto their calendar, and adding your responsibilities to your to-do list, and adding time to work on these items to your daily schedule. In this way, within minutes of your meeting, you have all the pertinent information on the right calendars and to -do lists.

A disciplined leader excels at self-management.

A disciplined person is a self-starter. They don’t need someone else to regularly check in to remind them of the next job to do. They know how to determine what needs to be done and what can wait. They know where to go to get answers or expertise they don’t have. A disciplined person sets their own direction for the day rather than waiting for the supervisor to give them their jobs. A disciplined leader manages their time in such a way that everything gets done and they still have time to dream and plan for the future.

A disciplined leader keeps going when things get tough.

Being a leader is not always easy. Pushback can come from many angles, including some of your own staff or even those you serve. Financial issues can become a big concern when money isn’t coming in as expected. A time crunch can also be tough, when the amount that needs to be done seems to be greater than the time available. Things can get tough too, when a leader feel like they are leading beyond their limits. In all the different ways that things can get tough, the disciplined leader will never give up. They will push through. They may arrange for deadline extensions or make some financial adjustments. They may get outside help, whether personal coaching, or more staff, to push ahead when they feel they are in new territory and unsure how to proceed.

Discipline is a valuable characteristic of anybody, but especially a leader. This characteristic will help a leader get through many situations when an undisciplined person may give up or just panic and do a poor job. Work at becoming a disciplined leader, one good decision, one good habit, after another. If you want to lead well, develop the character of discipline.

If you are looking to become more disciplined, checkout next week’s post on how to develop discipline as a leader.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

Book Reviews: Andy’s 2022 Reading Experience

I will be sharing a brief review of every book I read this year. Hope you enjoy and hope it encourages you to keep reading.


Disciplines of a Godly Man is a call to men in the church and home to stand up and be whom God has called them to be. Kent Hughes challenges men to step up and discipline themselves with chapters dealing on personal soul issues, relationships, character, and ministry. The church is looking for good men to give themselves to the work of ministry. God is looking for good men to give themselves to leading in the home, the church, and in the culture. Hughes does a good job reminding us that this is not about legalism: doing something in order to gain God’s favor. In fact, this is the opposite. This is about living in such a way that we honor the One who already loves us and calls us to a disciplined life of faith in Him. This would be a great book to walk through with a Men’s Group.