Leadership patience is the ability to lead without having to drive the train on every issue. Many leaders struggle with this. Even the best leaders struggle with letting go and gently guiding the direction of the organization instead of moving hard and fast on the issues. Patience is often overlooked, especially when it comes to leadership. Don’t get me wrong, there are most certainly times when you need to move quickly and decidedly, but if you are being a good leader, these moments will be rare. Don’t worry, leaders don’t have all the answers, many times they have very few answers, but they do know how to get the team to discover the answers. That is leadership patience.
Far too often I see leaders making decisions before the discussion and then fail to listen once the discussion happens because they already made the decision. It can be difficult to hold off on making a decision, and most leaders know the direction they want to go, but make a deliberate effort to know the direction you want to go and then be receptive to different ways of how to get there.
New leaders need to be very careful about having preconceived notions about the organizations they are taking over. Deciding what to do and how to do it before you have been brought up to speed on all the nuances of the organization is a costly mistake and the recovery can take significant time. If you want to see how your ideas will be received, you can do that without giving away your desire to implement them. Simply ask the question and listen to the response. You should be able to distinguish biased answers from legitimately thoughtful responses.
Simply put, people do not like change. In many cases, they will fight change even when they know it is a good change. I think the biggest reason for this is because it takes energy to change. In our busy organizations, change takes energy away from important things we are already doing. Taking that energy and using it on change creates anxiety because the new process may not even work. This is why following a change management methodology is wise. It helps reduce the anxiety of change and can help create an intellectual and emotional drive to change which makes the effort worthwhile.
Listen to your people. It takes longer, you might not get the answer you want, and your forfeit perceived control, but the only way to effectively lead is my listening to the people under your charge. Listening is difficult for everyone and is especially difficult as we get older and more experienced. So, take the time to listen, slow the process down and be patient! We all know you could change it and be finished in a few days, but unless you want to be stuck doing the tactical level work, you need to be patient and take the few weeks to listen and create a plan the team is willing and excited to work with.