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The Discipline Theme: How You Can Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

The Discipline Theme: How You Can Productively Aim Your CliftonStrengths Talent

by Albert L. Winseman, D.Min.

Gallup StrengthsFinder Discipline definition: People exceptionally talented in the Discipline theme enjoy routine and structure. Their world is best described by the order they create.

Precision. Detail. Routine. Structure. These are the hallmarks of those with Discipline among their Top 5 Signature Themes of talent. Only 7% of the 18+ million individuals who have taken the CliftonStrengths assessment have it in their Top 5, which means it is one of the rarer Signature Themes -- coming in at No. 31 out of 34 in frequency. Discipline sticks to the schedule, has a predictable routine, plans the work and then works the plan.

Discipline comes in two varieties: Spatial Discipline and Thought-Process Discipline. Spatial Discipline lives by the rule, "A place for everything, and everything in its place." The desks of those with a dominant Discipline CliftonStrengths theme are impeccably tidy, their homes are spotless, and they love to organize, categorize and straighten things up. As such, they never have to waste time hunting for an object, tool or important paper -- because those items are exactly where they are supposed to be. Thought-Process Discipline is a structured, organized, systematic way of thinking. Those whose Discipline tends to be more Thought-Process oriented tend to have an internal calendar in which they mentally log their appointments and to-dos, and easily and quickly create color-coded spreadsheets to give visual organization to their thinking.

Many with strong Discipline StrengthsFinder talents are both Spatial and Thought-Process in their manifestation of their talents, but some are more one than the other. In any case, structure, precision, routine and detail make for a predictable world and drive productivity and efficiency -- which gives Discipline a great deal of satisfaction.

Discipline: Helps and Hinders

When coaching those with Discipline in their Top 5, helping them claim both the "helps" and the "hinders" of the theme is critical to productive aiming. Some common helps and hinders of Discipline include:


  • Your natural inclination to focus on the fine points and create structure enable you to approach tasks in an orderly and well-planned manner.
  • You can easily sift through the clutter and chaos and create order, giving you an efficiency that can be leveraged for greater productivity.
  • Your attention to detail enables you to see errors, mistakes and inconsistencies others might miss, making you a valuable asset to your team in addressing potential problems.
  • As a team leader, you bring structure, process and order to your team's work habits and project execution.


  • Your need to stick to a schedule may cause others to perceive you as rigid or inflexible. Understand that sometimes exceptions need to be made.
  • If you lead a team, you should check in with your team periodically to see what adjustments may need to be made to improve the team's processes.
  • Not everything that happens is predictable. When the unexpected happens, find a way to adjust your routine to address the challenge or opportunity unexpected occurrences bring.
  • You develop frameworks that enable projects to get off the ground and run smoothly. Be careful that your framework does not become a prison; be open to new suggestions that might improve implementation.

Discipline: Self-Awareness, Self-Expression, Self-Regulation

In order to productively aim Discipline -- or any -- talents at a particular goal, an individual must: 1) have self-awareness about the theme's power, edge and vulnerabilities; 2) have an understanding of how the theme finds expression in day-to-day thinking, feeling and behaving; and 3) know how to regulate the theme to maximize the potential positive outcomes that can be realized through intentionally applying a strengths-based approach. Coaches can help clients with strong Discipline talents by exploring the following:


  • The Power and Edge of Discipline: Those with Discipline among their Signature Themes are organized, structured and pay attention to the details. Because of these innate talents, they tend to meet deadlines and have an innate ability to efficiently manage limited resources.
  • The Vulnerabilities of Discipline: With their focus on structure, order and process, those with strong Discipline talents can tend to miss opportunities that arise as part of the interruptions of the day, and they may dismiss too quickly ideas that are not part of the approved agenda.


Coaches can assist clients in realizing and claiming the expression of Discipline by helping them explore instances in the past when this theme has been particularly useful. To facilitate this exploration, coaches can ask the following questions:

  • What makes a great day for you?
  • How do you prioritize when the unexpected bursts into your day?
  • What has been your greatest success -- either at work or in your personal life? How did your Discipline talents contribute to that success?
  • Who has recently benefited from your ability to organize?


Self-Regulation occurs when individuals know which of their talents to use in particular situations, or know which talents to combine to either amplify or accelerate a specific talent, or to soften or moderate that talent. For example, sometimes those with strong Discipline talents can get so focused on the process that they lose sight of the outcomes; they can reason that following the correct steps in and of itself is the correct outcome. In situations like this, a coach can help the client find other talents that might yield better results. Also, coaches can help clients explore different theme combinations. Below are some possible combinations that will either amplify or moderate Discipline:

Discipline: Five Powerful Questions for Productive Aiming

  • How do you know you are achieving the right outcomes -- and is your focus on routine, structure and process helping or hindering getting to the right outcomes?
  • Is there a chaotic situation at work, at home or in your community that could benefit from your organizational talents? How will you "sell" yourself so your help will be accepted and appreciated?
  • What are you most proud of in your life? How can you do more of what makes you proud?
  • How do you know when it is time to adjust the plan? What plan of yours needs adjusting, and how and when will you do it?
  • What is the biggest challenge you are facing right now? What is your plan -- and what is your timeline -- for addressing this challenge?

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:


Al Winseman's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Ideation, Futuristic, Maximizer, Strategic and Command.

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