Disciplined Leadership: Developing Self-Regulation


This is part of a series of blogs on the theme of ‘Disciplined Leadership.’

“He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.” –  Lao Tzu

Emotional intelligence is also known as both EI and EQ… I prefer the term EQ since it corresponds with IQ… both being a “quotient.”

EQ is developed through growth in five areas:

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Self-Regulation
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social Skills

This blog is about Self-RegulationDaniel Goleman, who is acknowledged as the thought leader in the field of EQ, defines Self-Regulation as:

“The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods; the propensity to suspend judgment – to think before you act.”

developing self-regulation

What are the characteristics of effective Self-Regulation?  Research indicates there are three key components.

  • Trustworthiness and Integrity
  • Comfort with Ambiguity
  • Openness to Change

These are three measurable areas to track your progress toward improving your disciplined leadership skills, in the realm of Self-Regulation.

Let’s talk about some strategies to get going with developing Self-Regulation:

  1. Develop a Personal Leadership Philosophy, including a Personal Mission Statement. This one-page document should describe who you are and what you represent.  Here you can state what your values are, and others can hold you to them.
  2. Challenge Yourself with a Task You Know Little About. Most of us tend to gravitate toward those tasks we know well, because we feel confident that we will succeed at them.  The highest EQ leaders I know fight that tendency, even though there is some chance they might fail. Remember that opportunity can be found even in difficult times. But, no opportunities will be found if no attempt is made.
  3. At Meetings You’re in Charge of, Speak Last. I spent most of my leadership career speaking first – and thus stifling some great ideas in the process.  Choose to speak last instead. You’ll probably learn a lot from your team using this technique – since they won’t just be going along with what you’ve already said.
  4. Develop Tactical Patience. Remember: the first report is often wrong.  Unless it’s an emergency, let your team members come up with courses of action and recommendations when a problem arises.

At a dedicated time each week, make notes on your progress with Self-Regulation.  Enter the days and times you have worked on these four techniques.  Cite examples where you employed them.

The next step is to pass these strategies on to the other leaders and team members in your organization. It will take some time for discipline to grow, but I think you will see measurable results – in yourself, and those you serve as leader.

Enjoy the journey!

(Based on a post originally published Feb. 2021)

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