The importance of daily discipline in keeping your team accountable

The true meaning if discipline is showing up every day. So much is fundamentally built off of this. A leader leads by example. If you don’t lead by example, you aren’t a leader. You’re a manager, or a backseat driver, or a delusional narcissist. And you’re definitely a hypocrite. I hate being a hypocrite. I stop as soon as I discover I’m doing it. In my role as a leader, being paranoid about being a hypocrite has served me tremendously well.

So if you want your team to show up and crank full blast every day, you have to model that behavior like clockwork, rain or shine. There are many reasons for this. One is that if you don’t model the behavior, you won’t notice if you’ve created an environment that prevents that behavior. Another is that if you aren’t in the system paying attention, you’ll have no way of catching whether others are slacking off. And of course if you as the leader aren’t doing the things you demand of others, anyone with any self-respect won’t respect you at all. 

There’s no substitute for hard work. I’ve often seen individuals in leadership positions attempt to forgo the work once they secure the coveted title. They distance themselves from the gritty details so that they can spend their time thinking about fluffy high level objectives. It never works. There is a deep truth to the saying “the devil is in the details”, and you can ignore the devil but I guarantee he is not ignoring you. If you stay out of the details, devils will fester there and multiply while you turn a blind eye. That is not to say that you must micro-manage. But there is a huge difference between checking in on your team and holding them accountable, and checking out. You don’t have to make every decision to know what decisions have been made. You don’t have to do all the work, you just have to be in the room and do your part. The absentee leader is no leader at all.

The discipline is important for your team, and it is important for you. Your mind will grow fat and lazy if you don’t keep it regularly challenged with difficult problems and unexpected new information. Exercise your problem solving ability, and stay checked in to your team and your objectives. Encourage things that you can see are working, question approaches that appear not to bear fruit, and allow your team space to develop their own intuitions. Your job is not to solve all the problems for them, but it is to guide them towards the right solutions by helping them build more robust frameworks for problem solving. Don’t solve the problem, solve the person. Give advice, but make sure that advice is relevant by being present and attentive and in the details of the problem. The last thing you want to do is pontificate empty platitudes.

Your attitude should be that of a more experienced soldier. Lead from the front, model the behavior you expect to see every single day. Garner the respect of your team not through heroics, but through humility. Take opportunities to let others take on new responsibilities. Have standards for execution, but never let those standards prevent someone from stepping up and taking on critical tasks. If you have to hold their hand, hold their hand. But know that the true goal is not the completion of any specific task but the growth and maturity of the team itself. That is how you build momentum. That is how you accelerate. The team needs you shoulder to shoulder with them, or out of their way. Empower them through execution, or empower them with decision-making autonomy. The less autonomy you’re giving them, the more you should be helping them to do the work. Earn their trust. And if they aren’t giving it to you, you haven’t earned it.

Hold yourself to the highest standard. Hold yourself the most accountable. If the team fails, it means you have failed. The only way to actually live out this value, is to show up doing what needs to be done. Every. Single. Day.

Copyright © 2023 Silicon Hemisphere, LLC

Copyright © 2023 Silicon Hemisphere, LLC

Copyright © 2023 Silicon Hemisphere, LLC