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 When Discipline Is Your 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.
So here are a bunch of Discipline-related adjectives to consider using in your career branding efforts and your LinkedIn profile:
- Team Blueprint Maker
- Gantt Chart Lover
- Goal Systemitizer
Red Flag Situations For Discipline
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 two Red flags for Discipline:
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 (like, 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 Discipline, 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 Discipline
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 Discipline, put this 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 Discipline, 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. Yet often, the simple, day-to-day systems and routines bring the team a lot of that settled feeling. 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
- 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.
- And finally, 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.