© 2022 Leading Forward, Smart Emmanuel, CMC®


Leadership is the bedrock of organizational success. It is impossible for an organization to experience consistent forward movement without the right leadership. A good leader ensures he selects the right team members, keeps the team inspired, sets realistic goals and drives the team to achieve the set goal. However, there’s one key element that separates consistently successful leaders and the rest, it’s executional discipline . 


As leaders navigate the murky waters of failure, it’s easy to lose the organization’s discipline and culture. For example, if it was agreed that customers will always enjoy uninterrupted internet in your facility, it is easy to cancel that promise when you are not getting as many customers. This will be seen as a cost decision but it’s more of poor planning and indiscipline. Good leaders plan for a zero success scenario and they stick to that plan to ensure it’s tested long enough before discounting it as bad.  In other cases, failure or poor results makes the team less passionate about work and customer satisfaction. It is shocking that this is even an option because it’s a known fact that being less passionate about work and customer satisfaction leads to even greater failure and undermines any chance the organization had to succeed. The discipline to ensure the leader and the team sticks to the plan in the face of failure is one very important and underrated trait of leadership. Leaders who have mastered this art, live to enjoy the benefits of their good plans even if it comes slower than they hoped. 


It’s also easy to be indisciplined in the face of success. The leader and the team might be tempted to feel super smart. Average people begin to feel like super humans when they watch their plans succeed over and over again. It might get worse when the success exceeds everyone’s expectation.  The previous spending caps become immaterial and past budgets are not recognized. New plans spring up and are massively funded. Unnecessary and over hyped projects become the new normal. New products are released regularly. New offers are thrown at customers. New team members are recruited even when they fail to meet the organization’s criteria. Leadership feels invisible and unstoppable. Nepotism and tribalism thrives. People do wrong things but it has not immediate negative impact on the organization. Promises are unkept but business continues to thrive. Customers are wronged but new costumers keep coming. Products have defects but customers ignore and keep buying. This emboldens everyone even more. This is the story of how to move from massive success to massive failure. It is never immediate but when leaders fail to maintain executional discipline, people get high on success and do very wrong things, unintentionally. Leaders that find a way to maintain personal and organizational discipline in the midst of massive success end up saving enough for rainy days and keeping their promises to employees, shareholders and customers. They also enjoy consistent success for many decades. A disciplined organization that is failing today has a better future than an indisciplined organization that is enjoying massive success today.