Being patient as a leader seems like an appropriate lesson to consider amidst the season we celebrate as Advent. This is the traditional time of anticipatory waiting celebrated each year on the Christian calendar as the four Sundays preceding Christmas Day.
For many of us these weeks are filled with shopping, decorating, and baking in preparation for family and office gatherings. Camping out for that prized gift, standing in long checkout lines, or traveling to spend the holiday with loved ones is also a lesson in being patient during this time of year. Leaders would also benefit from being purposefully patient.
I’m generally impatient when it comes to traffic and shopping. Following a slow driver on a country road or visiting multiple stores to find a bargain has never been easy for me. Just ask my wife about our shopping trips to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
I prefer arriving in a timely manner and often buy the first item that catches my eye. This lack of patience impacts my approach to leadership. I struggle to tolerate less than stellar performance from colleagues and vendors.
Being impatient means I can create unrealistic expectations for myself and others, a practice that is sure to disappoint us both. When might a willingness to wait, or accept a less than ideal solution, actually be in everyone’s best interest?
Suppose I restrained my need to offer feedback and allowed the other person to explore options and make a few mistakes? Would my leadership image really be shattered if I was purposefully patient?
Most leaders have a short-term view of events and circumstances. Our economic system rewards speed and immediate success. Yet there is evidence suggesting that real change can only happen when our plans are guided by a purposeful style of patience.
Addicts know that each day is the only real battle they can win to stay clean and sober for a lifetime. Business strategic plans should reward behaviors that will achieve long-term success, not just a temporary stock price increase.
Lowering my work standards, tolerating a distracted driver, and enjoying a shopping trip may never be easy for me. Where might you benefit from being purposefully patient?
This Advent season of waiting seems a perfect place to get some practice.