When you think of good leadership, does patience ever come up as a key strength of great leaders? Probably not, but it should.
Patience can be one of the hardest traits to master personally and professionally because of the intense pressure put on leaders to generate quick and effective results.
Patient attitudes are even viewed as going against the grain of workplace culture. Instead, leaders are celebrated for working hard and fast.
But when you stop and think about it, a workplace without patient leaders is on the fast track to a toxic environment.
The “why” of patience
Patient leaders can be pegged as soft or easily manipulated, when in fact they are often genuine mentors, strong decision-makers, and thoughtful team members who have the ability to problem-solve through multiple perspectives.
Even more crucial, these dynamic and intrinsic leaders can provide balance to the hustlers who make up the majority, helping to round out any workplace environment.
To understand how leading with patience can positively impact a business, I spoke with Will Bartholomew, founder and CEO of D1 Training, an athletic-based fitness franchise backed by professional athletes.
As a leader in the fitness and scholastics space, Bartholomew has achieved a patient attitude by leading a variety of people from professional athletes, to corporate team members, to the younger athletes he trains. He’s boiled down his experiences to share five helpful tips on how to master the art of patience as a leader in today’s fast-paced society.
1. Trust in the process.
It starts with assessing feedback — what worked and what didn’t over the previous year, which takes time and patience. Long nights, debates, and arguments in meetings and countless information to organize and align with your company’s core values will challenge your patience. Bartholomew advises leaders to keep a level head and trust in the process. To be patient with seemingly time-consuming tasks, he reminds himself of the reasoning behind something like annual planning. “When you pause to understand the benefit of a well-laid-out plan,” shares Bartholomew, “you will no doubt take more time and care when crafting it, allowing for explosive company growth down the line.”
2. Practice morning mindfulness.
In addition to working out in the morning, Bartholomew devotes 10 minutes to focus on breathing and clearing his mind, which helps him let go of anything that may be plaguing his ability to positively lead his team. This morning routine takes discipline, he says, adding, “It helps me bring a calm, alert, and prepared mind to the office each day. If you start the morning flustered, it can lead to a short fuse, making it more likely a small problem could lead to an outpouring of anger. Coming to the office with a positive and refreshed outlook equates to approachability.”
Having a good team in your corner is the first pillar of success as a leader. And trust must be established for you to feel comfortable delegating and sharing responsibilities, which, again, takes time and patience. But look at the upside: Filling up employees’ plates with work will make you a resource, a mentor, and put you in a position to facilitate sometimes tough and candid conversations — all of which require patience, explains Bartholomew. “While that’s a tough job, it leads to employees feeling useful, trusted, and integral to the functioning of the business.”
4. Remember that faster isn’t always better.
When times get stressful, it can be easy to rush through things, like decision making. This may remove the problem short-term, but has the potential to create an even bigger issue down the road. “Quick decision making without critical thinking is a poor reflection of leadership to your employees and could go against your mission and core values,” explains Bartholomew. “Instead,” he adds, “think critically, but also emotionally so you can make the right call, not the easy one.” The same goes for knowing how to wait — and how long — which is one of the most courageous skills a leader can have. Some calls can be made quickly, but the more people and processes involved, the more skillful the decisions become. Bartholomew says, “Most business decisions take short term hustle and long-term patience. And while patience is a waiting game, make sure the waiting is filled with productive critical thinking.”
5. Practice emotional control.
Whether you’re running a business or looking for ways to move closer to a promotion, controlling your emotions is essential to being a good leader. Having the ability to curb your emotions comes with practice, best done when you are in situations that elicit a response, whether at work or at home. “If you have kids,” states Bartholomew, “think of another way to approach a conversation with them when they have done something wrong, or try a different method to calm the body down in situations you find stressful — such as sitting in heavy traffic or managing a crisis.” Finally, and most important, apply your learned actions to difficult situations in the workplace. “This will help grow your emotional intelligence and play a critical role in growing your business,” concludes Bartholomew.
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