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5 Ways to Become a More Patient Leader

The current business challenges surrounding the pandemic don’t appear to be getting much better anytime soon. In fact, the reality is that COVID-19 seems set to be part of our living arrangements for several years into the future. This means a longer recovery time for many firms that are struggling to come to terms with the slowdown in commercial activity and falloff in revenues. 

As more consumers head online, more brick and mortar businesses will experience a drop in sales. And even if they are able to pivot, competing with giants such as Amazon and Walmart will still prove to be difficult. Coming out stronger will require much patience on the part of all involved parties.

With that said, it’s no secret that some leaders are simply not good at being patient. That’s hardly surprising, however, because the hyper-connected society that exists demands instant results. From uncompromising customers to company directors setting the bar ever higher, business leaders are always being called upon to make things happen. As such, many seek to find fast fixes to new problems and are impatient with strategies that don’t appear to be setting root right away. Others are eager to pull the plug on processes and people that worked in the past, in favor of untested experimental tactics. 

However, patience is still a virtue. Leaders who are able to practice patience in the midst of a crisis will often make better decisions that produce positive results over the long term. What can you do to become more patient if you are not a leader who is big on this sometimes-overlooked skill? We outline a few things to focus on below:

Evaluate your communication skills

Being a good communicator is one of the most important skills a leader can master. By extension, patience is a big part of effective communication. After all, everyone receives messages differently, so you need to be patient in ensuring individual team members understand the goals and strategies required to achieve them. Being willing to listen objectively and ask questions requires much patience. So does taking time out of your busy schedule to explain new approaches and address concerns that might be brought to your attention. Evaluating your communication skills will help you to uncover areas you need to work on, which may help you become more patient in the process.

Put yourself in the shoes of others

As a leader, you will surely be impacted by negative results. But what about other team members? Falling short on deliverables can be hard to swallow for your employees as well, especially if they have been doing their best. When things go wrong, you may be tempted to react angrily and be judgmental of other’s abilities. It may seem the best way to get the results you want is to give ultimatums or question people’s abilities. This path can cause more harm than good. Even if things improve temporarily, the possibility of resentment might still exist and come back to affect the organization later on. It is best to take a different approach by being empathetic. This, of course, requires patience as well. But the more you are able to see things from another person’s perspective, the better you will be able to work with them to come up with long-term solutions.

Get the facts

Knee-jerk reactions can come all too easy when there is a crisis asking for an immediate response. A patient leader tries to get the facts of the matter first before making decisions that may have lasting effects on the organization. This can be hard, especially if the various stakeholders are urging you to take action right away. You don’t want to seem lackadaisical or not in control, either. But taking time to gather all the necessary information will afford you the luxury of making decisions that will vindicate your approach in the long run. One way to prevent unnecessary friction while carrying out investigations is to show transparency by letting people know what you are doing. 

Take responsibility

It is easy to point fingers when things are not going right. When sales figures are down, the quality of the marketing team may come into focus. If customer complaints go up, the thought may be that the client support team is dropping the ball. You get the drift. However, great leaders also take responsibility for setbacks and shortfalls of their organizations. They ask themselves if there are things, they may not be doing to support the team. They also take responsibility by being accountable to the team and ensuring everyone has access to the necessary information and tools. All this requires asking questions and soul searching, which is where having patience comes in. By being a responsible and patient leader, it shows others that you respect and appreciate their input. In return, you will earn the respect of others as well.

Focus on playing the long game

The uncertainty arising from the pandemic may be causing leaders at many firms to re-evaluate their future plans. However, it is still important to keep sight of the long-term mission and vision of your organization. Sure, you may need to adjust your targets. For example, if you were planning to expand operations to foreign markets in the next five years, maybe it would be smarter to aim for six or seven years. Or maybe you had hopes of becoming a leader in your industry within three years but five years seems more feasible. Whatever the case, crisis situations may cause you to lose sight of the big picture, but this is the time when you should actually be more mindful of the long game. This, again, requires you to be patient as a leader. A lack of patience will result in decisions that are not well thought out, which might make it even harder to achieve your vision for the future.

A big part of leadership is about getting results. With the current crisis putting a strain on most businesses, effective leadership is more important than ever to produce those results. And effective leadership is as much about being patient as it is about making good decisions.

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