Formidable Discipline

Over the last three months, as I have unfurled the flag of this WordPress blog, I have taken note of a variety of comments, statements and quotations that I have made around the blogosphere.  I knew, from the very beginning, that, one day, these quotations and pithy comments would be worthwhile and valuable to my audience.  So, I kept a journal of these quotations, as they came to mind.  Today is the day that I begin sharing these quotes with you.  Here is the first one:


“The contrast is vast between the discipline of those with military experience, and the discipline of some in the civilian workforce.  Worse than that, there is too much flexibility among managers to reign in this discipline gap.  Some managers are afraid of the conflict and workplace dissention that could occur with undisciplined employees if they are expected to follow the rules, or to perform a task completely, properly and accurately.  This flexibility has poisoned the workplace, and has created undue challenges to those managers who do enforce the rules, expect results and pursue accountability of their people.

In the military, there is no flexibility.  If we don’t follow direction, pay attention to detail, and accomplish the mission, people die, equipment is destroyed, morale & esprit de corps is compromised.  Failure is not an option.  Therefore, discipline is vital, and, as a result, followership flourishes.”

Dale R. Wilson, Sr.

Copyright © Dale R. Wilson

8 Responses to “Formidable Discipline”

  1. […] background-position: 50% 0px; background-color:#222222; background-repeat : no-repeat; } – Today, 11:11 […]


  2. David Navarre Says:

    “No flexibility” seems a little excessive a description. My understanding is that unless you reported to someone who reported to Bernard Montgomery, you were expected to use your head and adapt to changing conditions instead of following all orders precisely as written. Similarly, one can see in the variety of ‘grooming standards’ in special operations units that precisely the same set of rules is not always applied to everyone – that is, there is some flexibilty overall.


    • The point of the quote was to discuss forms of insubordination, and the requirement to take action or to perform a task. If you’ve read some of my recent posts, such as “Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom,” “Decision-Making in the New Leadership Organization,” or even the posts in the Toxic Leadership category, you know my stance on flexibility in field-level decision-making. When provided the intent, if you’ve prepared your team well, and have communicated your intent fully, your team will respond accordingly. But, my quote is about those who don’t respond accordingly, or at all. My quote refers to managers who have created a flexible environment with loose standards where performance levels and accountability are inferior and unacceptable. There is a contrast between military-trained employees and those who have not experienced an environment where high standards and expectations are the rule, not the exception.


      • David Navarre Says:

        I think “flexibility” is mis-used in this sense. It’s not the flexibility that is a problem, but a lack of discipline and an unwillingness to enforce it. Perhaps including is confusing. Take one of the sentences in your reply and remove the word:

        “My quote refers to managers who have created an environment with loose standards where performance levels and accountability are inferior and unacceptable.”

        Is it less meaningful or more meaningful without “flexible”?


      • I see your point! I think you’re correct. Thank you for contributing your thoughts on the context of this post, allowing there to be further clarity and understanding.


  3. I liked the post. The subject of discipline is always the meat of discussion within circles of success. Especially when it comes to decision making and mission accomplishment. I find Dale’s comments to be outstanding. I will say, however Dale, that your ability to take a step back and listen to the advice of another reader and then accept that criticism in stride is remarkable. In real time you have just now proven your methods and shown that you truly practice what you preach. I commend you for maintaining the comment traffic as well as adjusting as you saw fit. Bravo


    • Too many people are sensitive, or even reluctant, to criticism. I used to be. In fact, I used to be a lot different (in terms of a leader) than I am now. I’ve learned a lot in reflection. When it comes to hearing what is being said in the field, a leader must hear, see and feel it. Once the leader gets the feedback and hears, sees and feels the same, it is time to adjust. David Navarre brought up a good point and illustrated it to me. The key is that another set of eyes saw what I did not. And, he was correct. Think about it…the adjustments made with the change of one word changed the entire mission and outcome. Same thing in the military. To illustrate this, I encourage you to read (once again) “Decision-Making in the New Leadership Organization.”

      Thank you very much for your comment. I must say that even your comment opened my eyes to new things.


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