Leading with Patience!
“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” “ — Lao Tzu.
Patience is a virtue, and for many construct of time. But Laozi addressed a broader definition of acting at the right time and being compassionate without bearing nagging.
I often find myself in a situation “It was to be delivered yesterday!”
This is a fair statement if the deadline has passed. But demanding when there is no urgency can wear down an employee, and not getting the output when there is an urgency wears down the leader!
What makes a leader effective? Why does forbearance in leadership play such an important role?
Even in the current times, leaders have much pressure to generate results, build effective teams, and produce sustainable output. This adds to the pressure of having high performing employees that deliver on time with high quality.
What shall make a leader more mindful in such a situation when it will be unfair to say everyone is frustrated? How does everyone make a collective effort to exercise patience?
Suppose we think about patience; it’s the ability to stay tranquil in distress — stepping back, listening and processing the situation. It helps bring our feelings under control, demonstrating high levels of emotional intelligence. It’s not to be mistaken with inactivity or delay in action. If you’re overly relaxed about arriving to your meetings 5–10 minutes late, it does not signify that you are a patient person. I find this habit of being a disturbing indication of a lack of conscientiousness. Patience is the main ingredient of authentic leadership.
I am learning it a stricter way, and yes, it needs practice. Here are my mantras to become a more stoic leader:
Redefine the meaning of urgency — working at a slow and smooth pace reduces mistakes and speeds up the mission, as you don’t have to rework. In short, leaders shouldn’t “confuse operational speed (moving quickly) with strategic speed (reducing the time it takes to deliver value).” This means that leaders need to define delivery expectations, output clearly, and expected due dates. I practice a quick check a day before the due date to know there is no delay, which is my first step in guiding the team to apprise everyone of such delays as part of communication and collaboration.
See Through the Lens of Others — It’s always easy to be opinionated about how others manage certain circumstances. Step back, understand the perspective, see the bigger picture, help your employees/peers/colleagues connect the dots towards a solution, and build self-trust.
Communicate, Communicate and Communicate — Patience is built upon understanding what is happening. Hiding under a rock and not asking relevant questions or assuming makes for impatience. Taking the time necessary to work out problems will result in better communication and patience you :)
Evaluate Tension Points in an Unbiased Way — As a leader, you must be highly open-minded and patient under pressure to see it as an opportunity previously unseen. Don’ be biased and take a decision under pressure, do what feels right at that moment.
Actively build a tolerance for being a bit uncomfortable — This has been the most difficult one for me. The urge to act immediately, that impulse to make a decision, is irresistible. Step back and pause. Not everything can be fixed immediately!
Practice makes it a bit easier, though this is easier said and done. If you feel something is triggering your impatience, reflect, evaluate the purpose and have open communication.
Do you have any tips? Share your strategy or tag the most patient person you know (so we can learn from them!).