Patience. It isn’t often included in the list of primary attributes we look for in leaders and yet to me, it is an underpinning of good leadership.
Ben Franklin once said, “He that can have patience, can have what he will”
Note that he didn’t say, “can have what he will”…NOW.
In a world where technology demands speed, disciplining ourselves to be patient when things are not going quite fast enough, or well enough to suit us, is a challenge. For bosses, it is a challenge worth pursuing. Here’s why:
Patience allows for the development of late bloomers
Not everyone learns at the same rate. Some, like the hare, are quick out of the gate and others, like the tortoise, are slower off the mark. Each needs leadership to get to the finish line. Patience requires us to steer the hare and reach back to encourage the tortoise.
If you are a leader with little patience for the development of those who take more time to learn and grow than you’d like, you could be missing something. After all, Winston Churchill was a late bloomer
Patience allows us to suspend judgment long enough to make considered decisions
Often, when the pressure is on, we can make snap decisions that we later come to regret. With a little patience, we can give ourselves the benefit of stopping to consider the impact of the decisions we make and whom we might be affecting by making them. Ill-considered decisions usually result in having to take corrective action anyway.
Patience is a great stress buster
Getting to the place where we accept that sometimes we just have to wait can diffuse a lot of negative feeling. If we are frequently impatient with those around us, we are likely also frequently frustrated and possibly angry too. Managing our own expectations long enough to put matters into perspective and help those who need it can relieve a lot of tension on both sides.
So, if you buy that, the next question is, How do we develop patience?
To be truthful, I’m still working on that one but there are a couple of things that come to mind:
Learn to value the questions as much as the answers
There is a lot of benefit in curiosity and exploration. Patiently peeling away the layers of a problem through questioning does, I think, result in a richer and more rewarding outcome.
Know the “impatient” triggers and practice
To develop our level of patience, I think we need to focus on what makes us snap and the triggers that usually take us there. Being conscious about what causes us to be impatient is a start. The rest is about practicing in an equally conscious way to improve our tolerance levels.
This short video from John C Maxwell adds some more food for thought .
What is the value of patience to you? How do you practice? What benefits have you experienced by being patient? How are you developing your patience?