10 Habits Of Highly Undisciplined Leaders

Is there anything more frustrating than watching incredibly talent individuals waste opportunity because they are undisciplined?  At the request of my friend Joe Sangl I have given a lot of thought today about undisciplined leaders.

What makes someone undisciplined?  Are there warning signs that leaders can see so maybe they can correct their behavior?  What happens if an undisciplined person is on your team?  Can they change?

For answers to these questions, I looked at the career of the most talented yet undisciplined athlete I could find – Shaquille O’Neal.  Using a synopsis of O’Neal’s performance from the last decade by Hoopshype as a resource, here are the habits we can learn from the most physically dominant yet underachieving athlete I’ve ever seen.

  1. Does Not Respect Authority – Throughout his career, O’Neal has only respected one coach, Phil Jackson.  Sadly, Jackson traded Shaq following the 2004 season.
  2. Neglects The “Little Things” – O’Neal never enjoyed setting screens or defending the pick-and-roll.  Are you starting to neglect little things?
  3. Damages Relationships With Other High Performers – Shaq’s destructive relationship with Kobe Bryant is legendary.  Is there a trail of broken relationships you have left in your wake?
  4. Misuses Marginal Time – The practice habits of O’Neal created constant conflict with his more professional teammates.
  5. Unreliability – Shaq’s poor use of marginal time often led to unnecessary injuries.  In his 18 year career, he played in less than 70 games on 11 occasions. 
  6. Lack of Boundaries – Whether it was Shaq’s eating habits, infidelity, spending habits, poor use of time, or temper, undisciplined leaders have areas of their life that give a picture into an overall larger lack of discipline.
  7. Lack of Focus – Undisciplined leaders often partake in activities outside their core discipline.  Shaq did movies, music, and now stars in a reality show.  What about you?
  8. Commitment – Why has the most dominant player of this era played for six teams?  As a leader, are you constantly changing jobs or careers?
  9. Dysfunctional Personal Life – The personal life of O’Neal has been widely publicized recently.  Every undisciplined leader I’ve ever met had an unhappy spouse.  Leadership begins at home and you can often judge a leader’s effectiveness by the happiness of their spouse. 
  10. Satisfaction – Undisciplined leaders become satisfied with a certain level of success.  As a result, they unknowingly sacrifice paying the price to achieve future success.

Are there any of these 10 habits you’re struggling with?  I have to admit, there are boundaries that I struggle with, particularly food and overeating.

I don’t want to have people say about me what they have said about Shaq – “He was good but what could he have been if he would have applied himself.”  And I don’t want people to say that about you either.  Please heed the warning signs!

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.

10 Responses to “10 Habits Of Highly Undisciplined Leaders”

  1. Brian, thanks for this insightful blog. Timely reminder that our private lives have a direct impact on our public persona — and ultimately on our effectiveness as leaders.

    Have a good week.


  2. h2theizzle

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  6. ‎18 Lessons From The Greatest Leadership Book I’ve Ever Read Part 2: http://wp.me/pVReH-vI is a must read for anyone interested in impacting the next generation

  7. Not sure if you have the right to talk about Shaq this way.

    • David,

      Thanks for your comment. This is just my evaluation and I feel his career is a good case statement for underachievement and lack of discipline. This is very well supported throughout the web.

      What are your thoughts?


  8. CelticsTweeters RT @briankdodd 10 Habits Of Highly Undisciplined Leaders: http://wp.me/pVReH-vN is must read for #pastors #coaches #Lakers #Celtics #S…

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