Patience: The Skill that Many Leaders Miss

We live in a world of now; one in which we have become accustomed to instant gratification. Constant news feeds, up to the second updates on social media, and numerous amounts of information, important and irrelevant, that bombard us regularly. As a result, patience has become a leadership skill that often gets overlooked due to the need for constant results, meeting the expectations of shareholders and Wall Street, and consistently growing revenues and profits. Given these numerous demands, some would argue that leaders can not afford to be patient.

Although many leaders have become used to expecting everything yesterday, patience is the skill that truly separate great leaders from the rest of the pack. Patient leaders know when to push their people and when to pull back. They know the breaking point of an organization, but can drive execution with great efficiency. Patient leaders don’t try to do it all by themselves. They know what they bring to the table, and how to maximize the productivity of others. They know how to set a positive vision for the future, and do not expect it to become a reality over night.

Below are five behaviors you can put into practice to strengthen your patience as a leader:

  1. Put in Place a Season Mindset: All things happen in their due season. There is always a season for sowing, and a season for reaping. A season to plan, and a season to take action. Leaders must demonstrate the patience and perseverance to understand what season they are in, and what they want to move towards. Goal setting is an excellent tool for leveraging the season mindset. Set goals that have purpose and can be attained in a reasonable time frame. Don’t expect goals to be accomplished overnight. Steady dedication and commitment to the outcome will get you there. Patience will keep you from getting anxious or stressed about achieving the objective.
  2. Practice Disciplined Vigilance: Patient leaders are vigilant. They practice the same behaviors day-in and day-out with a focus towards the future. They avoid delays and procrastination. You have to be vigilant about your goals and objectives. Waiting until the last minute to pursue certain outcomes creates tension and stress. It can cause us to make mistakes because we are rushed, or it can prevent us from missing out on key priorities that could get us to our desired outcome. When leaders practice vigilance there is no need to rush or worry. Progress can be tracked consistently, and the capabilities of the people around you can be leveraged to maximize effort and performance.
  3. Work with a Mentor or Coach: Patience, like any other skill, can be developed. Working with a mentor or coach to get real-time feedback can help strengthen this capability. Leaders that work with a mentor or coach can learn from the experiences of others. They can actively solicit input about where they are demonstrating patience, and where they have difficulty doing so. Look for a mentor or coach who is going to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Honesty and transparency is key in any mentor or coaching partnership. Find someone who will hold you to the goals you set around practicing patience.
  4. Leverage the Capabilities of Others: Patient leaders do not try to do everything by themselves. They are surrounded by competent and capable people that can execute efficiently. They take an overarching objective and compartmentalize it into areas that each of their people can work on. This enables them to get to the result in a reasonable timeframe. Look for people that have strengths in areas where you have weaknesses. Balance out your team so that there is a mix of strategic problem solvers, creative idea generators, and those that can take vision and put it into action.
  5. Keep a Long-term Perspective: Patient leaders are skilled at taking a long-term perspective. They understand what can be accomplished today, and what has to take place over time. They trust their gut and intuition based on past experiences. If something took them a year to accomplish in the past, they learn from the experience and do not try to do things too quickly. Remember, patience is all about perspective. You have to look at the larger landscape if your going to exercise patience in your leadership. Practice these five behaviors and you will be well on your way to incorporating patience into your leadership repertoire.

For more information on improving your leadership, contact Bandelli & Associates at

Leadership Matters. Without It, People Fail.