In our society today, we are accessible at all times with phones in our pockets, self-checkouts, and two-day shipping; no one wants to wait for anything. As a result, we live in a society of impatience. A great leader, though, must develop the discipline of patience.
Patience is easy to talk about but very difficult to practice. However, patience can stay calm despite disappointment, adversity, or distress.
We are not born with patience. Think of a newborn baby. When they wake up wet or hungry, they cry; they want their needs attended to now. Some people develop patience early on. I was always amazed at my middle child. From a very young age, he practiced patience. However, when they want or need something, most people want it now.
Developing and practicing patience as a leader helps us to navigate stressful situations better. But unfortunately, solutions to challenges usually take time to put into practice. Too often, we want quick fixes. Yet, one study revealed that when leaders demonstrated patience, their employees’ creativity, collaboration, and productivity increased.
Many leadership tasks require patience, such as strategic planning, negotiations, people development, and program management, to name a few.
We recognize and acknowledge the change when a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, but have you ever thought about the patience (time) it takes for the transformation to occur? For some butterflies, the process takes three weeks; for other species, it takes three years. Patience takes ongoing practice.
Ways to develop and practice patience:
- Recognize when your patience will be tested the most. (Be mindful of the challenges that are coming).
- Understand the situation and establish the facts
- Acknowledge that some progress is slow and steady
- Listen and ask good questions
- Show gratitude
- Build a support system.
- Be prepared to respond to the unexpected.
Being patient enough to let someone solve a problem you know they can grow from is key to leadership.
By Cheryl Viola, Executive Director & CEO, Doctoral Candidate.