Leadership Caffeine™-6 Reasons Why Patience is a Leader’s Best Friend

image of a coffee cupPatience is the most important attribute necessary for effective leadership that we rarely talk about.

6 Reasons Why Patience (at the right time) is an Effective Leader’s Best Choice:

1. Too much beating the drum for speed, speed, speed ensures that the drum just becomes background noise to everyone. People and teams like athletes and artists cycle through periods of great productivity and periods of recovery. Good leaders understand that recovery time is essential for speed in the next sprint, and they manage the pace and rhythm of their teams accordingly.

2. Developing people takes time, deliberate effort, and yes a great deal of patience. While you as the leader might see pure raw potential in a team member, people develop at their speed, not yours. Your encouragement is appreciated, but display impatience and you risk derailing and demoralizing the individual.

3. People process change at different rates of speed. Some are quick to dive into waters they don’t yet understand, however, many others prefer to process on and internalize the issues around change at their own pace. Fail to show patience with those who are in mid-process, and you risk losing them.

4. Sometimes, speed kills. Speed might feel right in the face of competitive pressure, however, poorly planned charges up hills in the face of competitor fire predictably result in disaster. Teach your team to rein in the adrenaline and think through their moves before charging blindly into unknown terrain.

5. Some organizational processes simply resist speed. Maddening as it is to those of us who like to jump through walls in pursuit of our objectives, big machines work at the pace of big machines. While not excusing poor and inefficient processes, it’s important for those who must work within the machine to apply finesse and show patience in circumstances where our gut instinct is to launch.

6. Our gut instincts are capable of misleading uswhen it comes to talent assessment. Many a newly appointed team leader has used gut instinct to assess and shift talent on a team, without the benefit of multiple exposures over time.  The rush to judgment can cost you some remarkable talent. Instead, take the time to listen, observe and process long enough to make the right call.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Most effective leaders I know are impatient by nature. They are excited about helping drive a team towards a destination and they often see the gap between today’s situation and tomorrow’s idealized state. They also understand that by displaying patience for all of the aforementioned reasons, they can help everyone get there faster.

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By | 2016-10-22T17:11:24+00:00 December 27th, 2012|Leadership, Leadership Caffeine, Leading Change, Strategy|4 Comments

About the Author:

Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.


  1. Tina Del Buono December 27, 2012 at 7:18 pm - Reply

    Hi Art,

    It is a struggle to have patiences when changes are made. You are so correct that people adapt to change at different paces. Thanks for the great tips.


    • Art Petty December 27, 2012 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      Thanks Tina!

  2. jane December 27, 2012 at 9:17 pm - Reply

    Patience is especially valuable among type A personalities. Reminds me of a quote I read awhile back by Sir Winston Churchill “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” How courageous would we be to actually quiet ourselves long enough to let someone else share their idea and take as long as they need to describe it.

    • Art Petty December 27, 2012 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      Jane, well said! Thanks for the great addition and the Churchill quote! Art

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