Role of self-discipline in organizational excellence

November 1, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Blogroll, Organizational Excellence, Scrum and agile | 1 Comment

Organizations don’t excel by chance or accident; they put in sustained efforts to build the supporting culture and inculcate right attitudes. Self-discipline is one of them.

Life has become fast paced: there are many more opportunities & challenges than before. This requires an agile mind that can respond quickly to the changes. But agility is not a license for irresponsibility. Need for a quick change is sometimes taken as an excuse for neglecting our responsibility towards ourselves and others. This is unfortunate because being unpredictable increases work for us and others hampering agility. If one makes sure before giving commitments and once given tries one’s best to keep them, else keeps others informed, this is self-discipline. It is not imposed from outside. It comes from one’s attitude. When enough people in an organization have this attitude, it builds a culture of self-discipline. With such a culture, any new member who joins automatically imbibes it.

Need for fast change and quick response requires that the teams in an organization are self-managed. Culture of command & control has its own inertia. Team members keep waiting for directions from above and the manager becomes a bottleneck. But self-management can quickly turn chaotic if it is not accompanied by self-discipline. Here again acceptance of this fact by all concerned is essential. Freedom that comes with self-management has to be balanced with internal discipline within the team. Otherwise there is always a danger of going back to earlier less effective management styles.

You can’t have self-discipline unless it is accompanied by care for others’ interests. This is obvious but what is not so obvious is adverse effect of self-denial on self-discipline. Cultures with a distorted notion of sacrifice create internal tensions and make self-discipline impossible. Self-discipline is not a blind acceptance of externally imposed discipline by self. It must arise from within and be seen as ultimately in the interest of self apart from those of others.

Self-discipline requires and goes well with an open mind. A closed mind can’t see the reality very clearly and as a result tends to fall prey to efforts by others to influence and control it. An open mind helps to take a stand and defend it without being perturbed. Larry, a colleague of mine from our US office, was here last week. In a brief but interesting discussion on this topic, he mentioned the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. I got hold of it and am currently reading it. She uses the terms “Fixed” & “Growth” mindset. I hope to bring some interesting insights from this book in my future blog posts.

We see many such cases where not being aware of or misunderstanding about above facts can lead to unnecessary tensions and conflicts which ultimately affect the health of an organization. Being healthy is a precondition of being excellent.

Please share if you have any feedback / comments on the above thoughts.


1 Comment »

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  1. Hi,
    A GOOD article indeed
    Self-discipline is a very critical concept which is directly related to any organization’s productivity. An organization benefits when its employees start practicing self-discipline at work as it becomes less necessary for the managers to impose discipline externally. It encourages healthy professional relationships to thrive and creates an environment of dedication amongst the employees.
    Please visit our Blogs and share your views with us matters of similar concern and please do keep posting

    Thanks and Regards
    Ruhi Desai,
    Senior Business Development Manager @ Sapience Analytics Pvt Ltd

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