Interview with Jeff Wolf: Seven Disciplines of a Leader


About Jeff: Jeff Wolf is recognized as one of the top executive coaches in the country, dynamic speaker and a highly sought-after business consultant. Leadership Excellence magazine named him one of America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development, managerial effectiveness, and organizational productivity. He is currently president of Wolf Management Consultants, LLC, one of the most comprehensive consulting, coaching and training firms in the world. You can reach him at

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book on leadership?

Jeff: Today, there’s an unprecedented demand for highly effective leaders. As organizations strive to stay competitive in the tough global marketplace, the ability to develop effective leaders has become increasingly difficult. Yet, the reality is that effective leaders, at every level, can make or break them..

Through my coaching practice, I’ve come to realize that while some people seem to be natural leaders, most great leaders aren’t born highly effective with extraordinary skills; rather, they develop skills and become highly effective through instruction, experience and practice of core disciplines.

I wanted to write a book which provides simple, pragmatic principles, as well as stories and exercises that can help people become more effective leaders as they read and apply the book’s lessons. A book which makes it easy to become a better leader regardless of your level – supervisor, manager, general manager, president, or CEO. I wanted a book to address and answer a critical question: What can you do to improve your leadership?

Paul: How do you define leadership?

Jeff: The ability to motivate and inspire others to perform beyond their own expectations to achieve greatness on a daily basis.


Paul: Which discipline out of the seven is the most important for emerging leaders to develop?

Jeff: Although they are all important, I think for an emerging leader Discipline #4 may be the most important: Social, Emotional and Political Intelligence. Leaders with SEP intelligence exhibit self-control which allows them to rise to the occasion, stay cool under pressure, and provide a calmness which reassures others that they’re in control no matter how difficult things may seem. It is having self-confidence in their abilities while holding themselves accountable for their actions and the performance of others.

A leader is responsible for results and therefore they must be able to influence others to achieve desired results. Being aware of people’s feelings, needs, and concerns provides the ability to work with others as they strive toward shared goals and objectives.

Paul: What habits have you cultivated to embody the seven disciplines of leadership?

Jeff:  Show me successful leader and I’ll show you a great listener. As an executive coach, I had to refine my listening skills to a higher degree in order to work with executives. It took hard work and training to become an active listener and I feel I’m getting better every day.

I’m a firm believer that praise and recognition are important leadership skills and I work very hard to praise people to keep them motivated, inspired and full of positive energy.

Nurturing the growth and development of other leaders is one of the most important aspects of leadership.  I’ve tried very hard to help grow leaders at all levels.

Paul: Who has been your top role models when it comes to leadership, and why?

Jeff: John Wooden, the former basketball coach at UCLA, for his ability to not only develop great basketball players, but to drive home the importance of having great character and to be good men.

Jack Welch, the former CEO at GE, for his ability to understand the importance of growing and developing his people.  When you look around at high-level executives who are currently leading companies, many are from GE.

Paul: Which discipline personally means the most to you?

Jeff: They are all important but the one which is personally most important to me is Discipline #6: Love and Leverage.  If you enjoy what you are doing you will usually excel at it. If you love what you’re doing, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

I love what I’m doing and can’t think of anything else I’d rather do. When I coach executives and watch them grow into successful leaders, it’s very rewarding. Going into an organization as a consultant and making it function better is not work to me. It’s fun! I love the opportunity to meet with a wide variety of people every day, learn from them, and communicate with them at various levels. As a speaker, the ability to make a difference in somebody’s life, either professionally or personally is exciting.

Paul: What are three insights you’ve learned about leadership in your career as an executive coach?

Jeff: Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to work with hundreds of incredible leaders and I think three insights I’ve learned about leadership are:

1) today’s leaders must be honest, forthright and ooze integrity. People want their leaders to be role models whose allegiances and priorities are beyond reproach. They must have strong character and integrity.

2) People are the key to success. A leader’s role is to nurture the growth and development of others. When you inspire, motivate, coach, mentor, train and empower your people you develop an engaged workforce filled with talented and dedicated people who do great work.

3) Don’t be afraid to fail. Fear of failure can cripple even the most talented leader’s efforts to succeed. It stifles creativity and discourages risk-taking. Imagine how many inventions and innovations would never have become realities if the people who came up with them had been afraid to fail!

Question: Choose one of seven disciplines that you need focus on to become a better leader, and why?

  • Discipline #1 – Initiative and Influence
  • Discipline #2 – Vision, Strategy, and Alignment
  • Discipline #3 – Priorities, Planning, and Execution
  • Discipline #4 – Social/Emotional/Political Intelligence
  • Discipline #5 – Reciprocation, Collaboration, and Service
  • Discipline #6 – Love and Leverage
  • Discipline #7 – Renewal and Sustainability

How to Win Jeff’s Book:

All you have to do is to two things:

1)    SHARE this post on Facebook or Tweet or LinkedIn. (Each time you share, you’ll accumulate more points to win the giveaway!)

2)    Answer the question above on the blog post.

**The contest ends on Saturday, November 22 midnight PST. I’ll announce the winners the next day!