Week five – Courtesy and discipline in leadership

10 to 16 October

After four weeks, do we still think courtesy is of any value to business? Is it not just the weaker option? Is it just giving concessions to others? Sometimes it can appear that way.

We don’t think so. In fact, in conjunction with discipline, we believe courtesy plays an important role in effective leadership. And that’s what we’re focusing on in week five – see our polite prompt on courtesy and discipline in leadership.

Discipline runs throughout business. Businesses are required by the government to complete tax and VAT returns and comply with laws and regulations. This imposes discipline from outside. Businesses also have to be disciplined in how they manage themselves to ensure they can produce their products and provide their services as advertised and to pay their creditors and employees. A business needs discipline to sustain its operations.

The cost to business

If a business employs 5 people and they all arrive 5 minutes late, that is 25 minutes of working time lost in 1 day. That doesn’t sound much, but it adds up to 2 hours lost over 1 week and more than 2.5 weeks in lost time over 1 year.  A business with 10 employees could lose 5 weeks of working time over a year, while one with 100 employees could lose more than 50 weeks. Can any business afford to lose so much working time?

But how does a business owner or manager persuade those employees to start arriving on time? They need to improve discipline, but that is more difficult than just telling employees. A clocking-in system would register employees’ arrival, but would require expenditure and might not be cost effective for a small business. More to the point, unless required for specific record keeping, it would not demonstrate trust in employees. Effective leadership is more likely to address the issue successfully and motivate employees. Even if an incentive is introduced, it could cost less than the time being lost.

Keys to success

Courtesy and discipline have a complex relationship, but both are key to effective leadership and successful management of business. This is a challenging area as every business owner, board of directors or management team has to develop a management style to suit their specific business.

Getting the balance right can develop a happy, highly productive workforce and a stellar-performing business.

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