Leaders Know How to Be Patient

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to interview and examine the journeys of some of the greatest, most inspiring women in leadership roles. One thing I have noticed is that being in the spotlight isn’t as important to women leaders as it is to collaborate and collectively achieve/exceed the goal.

In my early years in business, I was impatient to move things forward and may have taken on more than I needed to in an effort to get the ball rolling.

I’ve learned, through multiple opportunities, to be patient with myself and others. Over and over, I’ve been tested in this area through challenging and often frustrating situations. These situations have honed my skills and ensured I was ready to embark on a more complex, important, and fulfilling journey. Learning patience may not be your lesson, but I bet life is testing you in some way, like a teacher, hoping you “get” the lesson.

My patience was continually tested whenever I was engaged in project-based work. I was driven to either initiate the project or complete the project. 

The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it. Arnold H. Glasow

My gung-ho work ethic and take-charge attitude wasn’t always what was needed for the ultimate success of the project. Through a series of good and bad situations, and with the help of some great mentors, I had to learn that being a leader means stepping back from the actual work and recognizing and embracing the strengths and talents of other people. It was more important that I learned to encourage, guide, and mentor others to take the leadership role than always taking the lead myself. One of my important life lessons about patience translated from work projects to other situations in my community and at my children’s school.

I had to reflect: Yes, I can choose to lead every project inside or outside of my office, but should I? Is this the best use of my time? I learned that if I gave others a chance to lead, and myself a chance to follow, I had energy left to focus on other initiatives.

It isn’t easy to be patient

I have to admit that patience was a tough lesson because it meant that timelines might be extended and outcomes could differ from my expectations. The key word here is “my;” “my” is not always welcome. I wasn’t sure I wanted to learn this lesson because it was difficult to step back yet critical to know where and what needed my attention.

A bonus lesson: When I took the time to invest in the people around me, I experienced incredible energy. When I stepped back and let others take the helm, encouraged their talents, and supported them in their leadership roles, I felt empowered in ways I would never have imagined. Without learning this lesson about patience, I could never have achieved many of my other life goals because I thought I needed to do everything I touched. In reality, sometimes I have to follow, and other times I need to sit out the whole project.