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Like the lighting in a room sets the mood, patience, as a leadership practice, sets the mood for the work environment.  It creates an environment that’s safe for people to make mistakes, have healthy conflict and take calculated risks.

The power of a patient leader doesn’t come from position or some form of outer authority, but it creates deep inner authority with those being lead.

A patient leader who exhibits self-control is a role model for how team members will approach their work and one another.  How can a leader expect the team or organization to exhibit self-control and take self-responsibility if he or she repeatedly displays impatience?

A Leader’s patience is evidenced in all areas of organizational life, not just interpersonal relationships.  The leader conveys an inner strength that enables them to encounter difficulty without becoming frustrated and also not wavering from their objectives.  When you act with patience, you recognize things do not always go smoothly and continue working towards the common goal.

Everyone wins with this type of environment.  Engagement and commitment rise and the bottom-line rises too.

The following table is a quick reference on the signs when patience is being practiced (health) and when there’s an opportunity to upgrade patience (dysfunction) as a leadership characteristic.

Signs of dysfunctionSigns of health
The normal tone of voice is raised or loudThe tone of voice is measured and not dictated by the circumstances
The choice of words have a tone of disappointment, frustration and sometimes angerThe choice of words are normally in the form of questions to inquire what can be learned and almost never convey judgment
Feedback sessions are emotional eventsFeedback is given once emotions have cooled and are fact based
Public forums are used to hold a team member accountableAccountability only happens in private with those specifically involved
A common tactic after delegating a task is to “hover” or micromanage the person and taskDelegation is thorough and the task is clearly defined so that micromanagement isn’t necessary
New ideas or processes that aren’t immediately effective are tossed outNew ideas and processes are monitored and evaluated closely when determining what should be implemented

Use these questions to privately reflect or to discuss in a group of peers who are looking to upgrade their patience:

Who are your leadership role models for patience?  What behaviors did they display?

What is a lack of patience costing you in your leadership role?

Where will you practice patience in your leadership this week?

Jeff HarmonJeff Harmon is the president of Brilliance Within Coaching & Consulting which specializes in developing servant leaders while helping them translate their strategies into actionable plans that drive business results. Jeff is the author of “The Anatomy of a Principled Leader.” Jeff has been developing leaders for nearly 20 years and has led the execution of over 100,000 hours of business strategy for information technology, financial services and non-profit organizations.

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