Leading with Patience – The Will to Wait

The following is an article by Doug Moran of If You Will Lead, LLC

Patience is a virtue.  This pearl of wisdom has been a bone in the throat of even the most patient leader.  Patience is an easy thing to talk about, but it is extremely difficult to practice.  Webster’s defines patience as, “the quality of being capable of bearing affliction calmly.”  Patience is the third attribute Rudyard Kipling described in the poem ‘If-:’

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Most of us think of patience as a construct of time, but Kipling was addressing the broader definition – enduring difficulty and hardship while awaiting the appropriate opportunity to act.  He is also referring to the patience required to bear the nagging and sniping that often accompanies a decision to wait.

Patience is a quality often lacking among today’s leaders.  Society expects those in charge to take action quickly and decisively.  True leaders recognize that patience enables them to take stock of the situation, to understand what is required, and wait while they build the capacity to take appropriate and effective action.  Patience requires composure and character (as discussed in earlier blogs).  Societal pressures for action may cause others to criticize and condemn a leader’s perceived inaction or lack of speed.  People will first demand action.  Then they will demand results.  The greater the crisis, the greater the impatience.

By demonstrating patience, leaders reinforce the importance of focusing on the long-term outcomes.  Patience doesn’t mean ignoring the interim milestones or short-term deliverable.  It does mean keeping them in context.

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Leading with Patience – The Will to Wait, February 2, 2010, ifyouwilllead.com


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