1. Lessons In Leadership

The Wisdom of Patience

Leadership is understanding when to force change and when to let it come to you. 

Guy Kawasaki is quoted as saying, “Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.” As a leader, I need to work on this, as I suspect most of us do.

When we are fired up by a plan to transform our company, disrupt the industry, and delight our customers, patience is hard to come by. In fact, if the change is that important, we owe it to our organization to make it happen as quickly as possible, right?

Not always. Often, the most worthwhile idea is the one that you just can’t force; you must let it come to you.

Gardeners get this. They till the soil, plant the seeds, and nurture the plants so that they can enjoy the best tasting fruits and vegetables when the season is right. Hot-house plants, picked before they are ripe, can be forced to grow year-round, but flavor-wise, they don’t measure up.

We need to nurture new ideas with the same thoughtfulness. As a leader, it’s your job to know when to force a change and when to let it come to you. Ask yourself what a speedy execution gives you…and what it costs. If the price of expediting change is strictly a matter of dedicating more resources to make it happen, and you’re willing to make the investment, go for it. But if the mission requires changing the hearts and minds of the very people who will make it succeed or fail, exercise some patience. Once your people recognize the value of a new idea that involves change, they will bring their ideas and energy to the solution. But until they get it, and embrace it, they will just keep going through empty motions, certain the idea will fail and ensuring that outcome.

“Workforce math” dictates that 10 people, working for one day, can sometimes achieve what one person can do in 10 days. But nine women can’t have a baby in one month. Some things – things worth waiting for – can’t be rushed.