Discipline: Organizing for Efficiency and Predictability

A CliftonStrengths Theme Spotlight

"People exceptionally talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create." -The Gallup Organization

Few things bring me more joy than organizing, scheduling and then executing a plan. Structure helps me thrive and flourish. And I've always been this way.

As a child, I was constantly organizing things and creating systems. I made a library in my room and coerced my siblings to come check out books from me. I created borrowing cards for each book and made my patrons sign their names when they checked one out, acknowledging the due dates I expected them to follow. I even made them their own personal library cards.

My poor sister. I would play school with her, except I wanted to make a schedule for all the things I was going to teach her. It was basically a syllabus. She was less enthused than I was.

Anyone who was watching closely would have noticed my intense desire to organize and structure the world around me. Thankfully I had parents who humored me as a child and helped me develop these areas as I grew into adolescence and adulthood. (On this note, check out our recent blog on discovering and developing your own kids' strengths)

As an adult, I find freedom and comfort in scheduling my days and my weeks. I build in rhythm and routine to help me reach my goals and I love helping companies and organizations improve their productivity and efficiency through well-thought out and executed planning.

Discipline is my #3 strength and it explains so much about how I approach tasks and work with others.

Here's more on this Executing theme.

The Talents of People High in Discipline

People high in the Discipline theme are structured, ordered and meticulous in their planning and execution. They are quick to establish efficient routines and will stick to them unless they identify a more precise method. Those with Discipline view time as a critical resource to be managed. Because of this, they stick closely to their calendars and typically don't deviate unless absolutely necessary. They love predictable and planned days and weeks.

When approaching tasks, those high in Discipline are most likely to focus on the timelines involved. They want to know completion-dates and deadlines so they can break down projects into smaller, time-sensitive to-dos. Their need for precision means that they rarely miss important details and their i's are going to be dotted and their t's will always be crossed.

People high in the Discipline theme have the ability to walk into a chaotic environment and instinctively know the systems, processes and schedules that need to be implemented to increase productivity and efficiency. In fact, they are known for their precision and exactness. Their presence on teams can improve productivity and performance because routine means everyone knows what to expect. When working with a person high in Discipline, others will often ask, "How does he get so much more done than I do?" They will comment, "This is a well-oiled machine."

And that is the charm of people with the Discipline theme. They are predictable and bring stability to their relationships and organizations. Their steadiness and exactness mean that others typically trust them, both relationally and when it comes time to execute on a plan. One person we know who reports to someone high in Discipline said it this way:

"When I started this job, I was really overwhelmed and stressed out. But she was so confident in her system that it didn't take me long to catch on. Everything was laid-out, she communicated it well, and we knew exactly what to do next. Her structure felt like safety and freedom to us."

The Temptations for People High in Discipline

Because people high in Discipline crave routine and predictability, they can really struggle to adapt to change. When they've identified a system or schedule that works well for them, they are likely to stick to it, even when making tweaks here or there could benefit themselves and their teams. If the vision or purpose of their organization changes, it can be difficult for the person high in Discipline to rework his/her systems to come into alignment with the new trajectory.

By nature, they are creatures of habit. In fact, they hate surprises and despise "flying by the seat of their pants." Because of their meticulous planning, they are prone to become stressed-out when things don't go as planned. Understandably, others can sometimes see them as inflexible and resistant to change. At times, they can even be perceived as "control freaks" or "perfectionists" who get bogged down in details.

If they aren't careful, their detail-oriented and meticulous approach can result in them not seeing the forest for the trees. Similarly, those high in Discipline can unintentionally snuff out creativity and innovation because of their desire for stability and routine. Others can view them as rigid and overly mechanized, unwilling to evolve over time.

A leader we know with Discipline had this to say:

"When I'm at my worst, I can treat my employees like cogs in a machine, or like little robots who are expected to function in an assembly-line fashion. That's never my intention, of course. But I've learned I have to let them have some flexibility and creativity in the way they approach projects or they will become very discouraged under my leadership."


Here are a couple of quick ideas to get you thinking about how to leverage and self-regulate if you've got a dominant Discipline theme:

  1. Look for opportunities to bring order and structure to chaotic systems or environments. What would take someone else a long time to organize, will take you no time at all. Your team needs your precision and detail-oriented approach in order to increase efficiency and productivity.

  2. Consider partnering with people high in Strategic Thinking themes such as Ideation, Strategic, or Futuristic. These individuals will help you think creatively and strategically, and you will help them implement their ideas in ways that will work.

  3. When leading a team or working with others, make sure you communicate about your Discipline theme. Your desire for routine and structure can simplify and stabilize chaotic environments. Help others see the value in your perfectionism.

At ROI Talent Development, we try to help people fall in love with every single talent theme, even if it isn't dominant in their own theme sequence. Because when we all take the time to understand and appreciate one another, we build happy and healthy workplaces where employee talents are valued and developed.

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