Discipline Strength: Get Known For Your Talent
I hear a lot of curiosity about how to apply your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Discipline to your career.
In this series, I break down one strength per post — so that you can add to the insights from your StrengthsFinder report and make an even stronger alignment between your current job and your strengths.
- If you’re exploring this concept as a manager, use this series for career development ideas and even new clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this talent theme so that they can show up at their best.
- If you’re exploring this concept for yourself, use this as a chance to build a reputation for your strengths so that you’re more likely to be given assignments that live in your strengths zone.
You’ll get three layers to chew on:
1. Career Branding
2. Red Flag Situations At Work
3. Fresh Application Ideas
Career Branding For The Discipline Strength
You probably already have a reputation for what you know. Think about your personal resume, CV, or your LinkedIn profile, I bet it's full of “the what,” which are things like job titles, skills, knowledge, expertise, or the degree you earned. What’s missing is usually "the how,” and this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live.
Chances are good that you are a lot like my StrengthsFinder training clients, where you don’t physically see your teammates and customers every day. So many of us work on remote teams. That’s why LinkedIn has become so important for career branding. It’s how your teammates, customers, and vendors go look you up before a meeting - to see who they’re about to talk to. And rather than only telling them what you know, you should also give them a peek at how it is to work with you.
Here are a bunch of adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile when you lead through the Discipline strength:
- Team Blueprint Maker
- Gantt Chart Lover
- Goal Systematizer
Red Flag Situations When You Lead With The Discipline Strength
These are the cultures, interactions, or situations that might feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Discipline. They could even make you want to quit the team if they get really bad. So I’ll give you a couple of these to be on watch for — because if they fester, you might become detached or disengaged at work.
Here are a couple of Red flags for the Discipline strength (talent theme):
Flavor of the month culture. People who lead through Discipline love routines, processes, systems, structures, and long term planning. They’re always scanning for what the norms are so that they know what to expect. If your team culture tends to have a lot of “flavor of the month” initiatives that start and stop, it might be maddening for you. Be on watch for these red flags, and look for the ones that bug you and kill your mojo. For example, you might be fine with a monthly book study initiative because you know that people are talking about the latest and greatest business topics. But if you notice that there’s a new flavor every month for the customer onboarding process, you’ll likely be frustrated because you can’t map your personal responsibilities to the ever-changing systems and frameworks.
We’ll know the day’s priority when that day rolls around. If you have to be reactive at work, take note of whether this drains you. For example, if you work on dispatch (as in: I don’t know what I’ll do that day until the customer calls start rolling in), that might be stress inducing. Or, if your days are filled with urgent requests that blow up your already-planned week, you might go crazy. That will not be fun. Especially when you feel a need to be precise and accurate. When urgencies blow up your day, you’re not only off-routine, but now your other plans are at risk for solid execution. Of course, most people don’t like it when their days are hijacked by someone else’s priorities, yet if you lead through the Discipline strength, this can be especially draining. If it’s an unavoidable reality of your workplace, do your best to set up a structure that allows for the lack of structure (like pre-planned buffer time).
3 Fresh Application Ideas For The Discipline Strength
These are ways to apply the talent theme of Discipline at work , even when the job duties on the team feel pretty locked in. If you’re exploring this concept as a team manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas. You’ll both be able to come up with places to apply them.
For someone who leads through the Discipline strength, put the talent to good use with one of these options:
Share project planning templates. One of my friends (Laura, you know who you are), leads through Discipline. One day, she told me about her wedding planning spreadsheet. It had every potential vendor for every element of the event. Each vendor had categories that reflected their priorities and preferences so that they could be scored on a rubric of sorts. Everything had deadlines and timelines to seamlessly make every decision, bit by bit, so that things didn’t pile up into a big stress ball near the wedding date. When her friend marveled over this document, Laura was surprised that other people didn’t make spreadsheets like this.
As you might guess, this is a superpower that extends into all areas of work and life. So if you lead through the Discipline strength, share those documents with colleagues. They don’t have systems, structures, and routines like this in their lives. And they’d love to use your awesomeness to make their lives more streamlined and structured. Volunteering your project plans and routines to the team can be an amazing contribution.
Create order. If you manage someone with the Discipline theme, think of them when things are in chaos. Whether you just went through a re-org at work, or if a new product launch created chaos, many people will naturally crave order. Whether you ask them to do it or not, people who lead through Discipline probably already have new systems, processes, and routines they’ve established to adapt to the new order. So why not mine this for the benefit of the whole team? Next time a major change is happening, think of them and ask them to help people get to their new status quo. This is brilliant because many people think of “change management” as the people-related stuff - like getting emotional acceptance for change. It's true, people are critical to change management - and so are processes. Processes are the part that someone who leads through Discipline will gravitate toward. This person can help establish the simple, day-to-day systems and routines that bring the team a settled feeling (AKA "I'm okay with the new way - everything is going to be alright.") If you personally lead through Discipline, offer your new routines and hacks to your teammates. They’ll love how you’ve already moved into efficiency mode, and that you’re saving them time on the learning curve.
Long haul view. If the team is great at starting things, and then fizzles in the middle, consider defining the role of the person with the Discipline talent theme to keep things on track over the long-term view. They have a long view of projects. They love to ensure that things get done over time. They’re not procrastinators, and they won’t fill the team’s inbox with urgent requests because they let the tasks in the middle of the project fall off of their radar. Nope! Instead, they are tuned in throughout the whole thing. Even if the person’s role isn’t formally a program manager or project manager role, they likely think like a PM. So use that for the good of the team.
Here's Your Personal Branding Homework For The Discipline Strength
- Go take action on your LinkedIn profile with the career branding section. Challenge yourself to write one sentence in the Summary section of LinkedIn that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work.
- Then think over the red flags to see if there’s anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down. You might decide to make the situation mean something different, or pre-plan a reaction for the next time it comes around.
- Volunteer your talents through the application ideas. If you’re a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they’d love to have more of.
- Dig into the Discipline strength all the way. You can really nerd out on the nuances on the Discipline Talent Theme Page.
Here's A Full Transcript Of The 14 Minute Episode
You're listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you'll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I'm your host, Lisa Cummings and I got to tell you, it's tough to find something more energizing than using your natural talents every day at work. Now I get tons of questions about the talent theme of Discipline.
Today, you'll learn how to align your CliftonStrengths talent theme of Discipline with your career. So, in this series, I've been breaking down one strength per episode, so that you can add to the insights you already have from your StrengthsFinder report, and then make an even tighter match between your job and your strengths. And for this theme, it's worth mentioning that Discipline, it's not one of those most commonly seen CliftonStrengths themes. Yet, I think it might be one of the most envied themes out there.
I mean, every time I deliver a StrengthsFinder training, people just fawn over this talent. They wish they had more system and structure in their work life. So, in a work culture, where distraction feels like the norm, is the person who leads through Discipline. That can be like this magical beacon for keeping execution on track on the team.
Now, if you're listening as a manager, use this series for career development ideas, even to get clues about responsibilities you could give a person with this theme, so that they can show up at their best.
If you're listening for yourself, use this as a chance to build your reputation for your strengths, so that you're more likely to be given assignments that live in your strength zone.
Today, as you've already heard, the talent theme of the episode is Discipline. And you're going to get three layers to think about. One is career branding for Discipline. The second is red flag situations at work. And the third is application ideas.
So, let's talk career branding first. Now, you probably already have a reputation for what it is that you know. Think about your personal resume, your CV, your LinkedIn profile. I betcha, it's full of the ‘what’ - these are things like job title, skills, knowledge, expertise, the degree you earned. What's missing is usually the ‘how’. And this is where your StrengthsFinder talent themes live. The how tells people, what it's like to work with you, how you think, how you interact, how you make decisions, how you get things done. Imagine how great it would be if you got known for these ways of working that already feel easy and enjoyable for you.
So, here are a bunch of adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts. These are all things that will make you sound a little more unique than the typical motivated team player that we see on so many profiles.
Okay, here goes for Discipline. Organized, orderly, well-planned, predictable, structured, team blueprint maker, reliable, timely, Gantt chart lover (If you're a project manager, you'll know what I'm talking about. If you're not a project manager, you might like Gantt charts, even still just because you have the Discipline talent theme. Okay, on to the list.), routine, exacting, goal systematizer, neat, efficient and meticulous.
Now, think about which one, when I read that list, just really resonated with you as something you feel you are, and you want to be known for it. Pick that one and then make a goal of using that in your conversations this month, using that in your actions this month, because the more you use it and talk about it, the more you'll get known for it.
Now let's move to red flags situations for Discipline. These are the company cultures, the interactions or the situations that are going to feel like soul-sucking drudgery to someone with the talent theme of Discipline. If they get bad, they might even make you want to quit the team. So, I'll give you a couple of these to be on watch for because if they fester, you might get the urge to detach at work, feel disengaged or spend your whole workday thinking about how you need to move on to the next role.
So here are two red flags for Discipline. The first one, I'll call flavor of the month culture. See, people who lead through Discipline, love routines, processes, systems, structures, and long-term planning. They're always scanning for what the norms are so that they know what to expect. Now if your team culture tends to have a lot of that flavor of the month kind of initiatives that start and then they stop before they're finished, it might be maddening for you. So be on watch for those red flags. Think about the ones that bug you and kill your mojo and then get on top of it. Get okay with what you make that mean.
See, for example, you might be fine with a monthly book study initiative because you know people are talking about the latest and great business topics and if that fizzles out and becomes nothing, you don't care if it continues on.
But if you notice, there's another kind of flavor of the month, like a new one for customer onboarding processes. You might be frustrated because you can't map your personal responsibilities to the systems and the frameworks that keep changing on you, underneath you at work. So, you have to key-in to the ones that actually bother you, and then either change the situation or change what you're making them mean to you. Interesting take on that, right?
Okay, another red flag. This is a culture with the approach, “we’ll know what the day's priority is when that day rolls around.” And that's a long title for a red flag. But you know what I'm talking about if you lead through Discipline. You don't know the priority based on the moment. You know the priority, because you planned it long ago, and you've been taking along doing the tasks and responsibilities that are going to help you meet the deadlines well in advance, because you're prepared. So, if you have to be reactive at work, take note of whether it drains you.
So, let me give you a couple of examples. If you worked on dispatch, like, “I don't know what I'm going to do that day until the customer calls start rolling in”, that might be stress-inducing for you. Or if your days are filled with urgent requests that blow up your already-planned week, you might go crazy. That will not be fun, especially if you also feel a need to be precise and accurate. That's often another kind of flavor of Discipline, if you like precision and accuracy, and then your day gets blown up constantly. You're not only going to be off routine, but now your other plans are at risk for solid execution. So, it's also going to get to your ability to keep your word and deliver as promised.
Now, don't get me wrong. I mean, most people don't like it when their days are hijacked by someone else's priorities. That doesn't really sound like fun no matter what your talent themes are yet, if you lead through Discipline, this can be especially draining for you. And if it's an unavoidable reality of your workplace like it is in many workplaces today, do your best to set up a structure that allows for the lack of structure. Does that sound crazy or what but you know what I'm talking about? Like maybe you have pre-planned buffer time in your calendar, it might even be called something funny to you, like an hour a day that you block off, and it's called someone else's urgencies. And that allows you to have a little bit of flow without getting flustered.
Okay, moving on from red flags. Let's get into application ideas for Discipline. These are ways to apply the talent theme at work, even if your job duties on the team already feel pretty locked in.
Now, if you're listening as a manager, be sure to have a conversation around these ideas to be sure they ring true for the person. And then you can come up with some new ways to apply them as well, because the person that you're talking to is going to have other ideas about them.
Now, if this is you, who has Discipline, and you're listening for yourself, think of these couple of options for how to put this talent to good use.
First option, share project planning templates. So, one of my friends, and Laura, you know who you are, if you're listening. She leads through Discipline and one day she told me about her wedding planning spreadsheet and had every potential vendor. For every element of this event in the spreadsheet, every vendor had categories that reflected the bride and groom's priorities and preferences and price points so that they could be scored on a rubric of sorts. Everything about this wedding has deadlines, timelines, so that it can seamlessly flow through a decision process bit by bit so that things don't pile up into a big stress ball near the wedding date. I bet she will be the most calm bride ever because she's got this thing mapped out well, in advance.
Well, when her friend was marveling over this document, Laura was totally surprised because she didn't realize other people don't make spreadsheets like this. I mean, most people don't make a wedding spreadsheet. But if they do, it's not going to be on the order of magnitude that hers was. So, as you might guess, this is a superpower that extends into all areas of work in life. If you have the Discipline, talent theme, you probably don't just plan at work, you probably have your vacations planned out and your life planned out in a similar way.
So, if you lead through Discipline, and now you're trying to apply that at the workplace, think about the documents and systems that you create, and share them with colleagues. They don't have systems and structures and routines like yours in their lives. They might have something, but they're not going to be like yours. And they probably love to use your awesomeness to make their lives more streamlined and structured. So, volunteering your project plans and your routines to the team, that would be an amazing contribution. It would be like life hacks for them to be able to draft off of your Discipline. That would be a great way to apply this talent theme and offer contribution to the team with it.
Second one, create order. Let's think about this one like you're the manager. If you manage someone with the Discipline, talent theme, think about them when you're in the middle of chaos on the team. So, imagine you just went through a reorg at work, or a new product launch created a bunch of chaos. People on the team during those situations, they crave order. And whether you ask them to do it or not, people who lead through Discipline, they probably already have new systems. They're already creating order, because this is what they do. They constantly create order and structure in their lives, because it helps them feel like they're functioning well. So why not mine for that. There's a benefit there for the whole team. So next time, a major change is happening, think of the people on your team who lead through Discipline, and ask them to help people get to the new status quo, because they can share this new order. And this will look different for every person. it might be literally sharing a new process that this person has made up for themselves, or it could be how they've made sense of it. But just take it at a conceptual level and figure out the details.
This is brilliant, because many people think of change management as only the people related stuff, like getting an emotional acceptance for your changes. Yet often these very simple day-to-day systems and routines, those are the things that get the unsettled feeling going on the team. And if you personally lead through Discipline, you might have new routines, new hacks, new systems and structures, new efficiencies. You found a new software, share it with your teammates. They'll love that you've already moved into efficiency mode, and that you're saving them time on their learning curve.
Okay, third one. I call this one long haul view. So, if the team is great at starting things, but then they tend to fizzle in the middle, consider defining the role of the person with the Discipline talent theme to keep things on track, over the long haul. Somebody who's really focused on the long-term view, because this is the view they naturally take, they have a long view of projects. They love to ensure that things get done over time. They're not procrastinators. They won't fill the team's inbox with urgent requests that say, “Oh, please reply ASAP, because I didn't do the work I was supposed to do”, which is like subtext of a lot of those “ASAP, I need this. Oh desperate moment, because I didn't plan well so I'm gonna move my urgency to you.”
No. People with Discipline, they don't do that. They're tuned in throughout the whole thing. And even if the person's role isn't formally a program manager or a project manager role, they likely think like a project manager, as it is. So, use that for the good of the team. I've seen many teams where someone who has Discipline or someone who can help the others see the dependent tasks, and why something has to get done by a certain deadline, it can help the team members see, “Oh, these aren't patterned due dates, like these are in here for a reason.” And there's a critical path here. If we don't meet it, it's going to blow up the whole thing. And it helps the whole team, take the sub tasks in the middle part of the project more seriously.
So, there you have it. It's a quick tour for building your career through the talent theme of Discipline. And a special shout out to Deena Silverman and Joe Darren for content contributions on this episode.
And let's get right into your homework. So, your personal branding, homework.
One, go take action on LinkedIn on career branding. Challenge yourself just to write one sentence in the summary section that captures how you collaborate as a teammate at work, something other than motivated team player. You know, you know the adjectives up in the top section.
Then, think over those two red flags. See if there's anything you need to get in front of before it brings you down by reworking the meaning, or your reaction or your situation.
And finally, volunteer your talents through those application ideas. And if you're a manager, have a conversation with your team members about which of these things sound like something they would love to have more of in their work life.
And with that, I'm your host Lisa Cummings, from Lead Through Strengths. If you're thinking about doing a virtual or in-person strengths event to kick-off your strengths-based culture, head over to leadthroughstrengths.com/training to see if our current offerings seem like a good fit for you.
Until next time. thanks for being part of this powerful strength movement that helps people unleash the awesomeness they already have inside them.