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Impatience as a Leadership Virtue

“Karin, we should be able to have this project done by the end of the year.”

I listened impatiently as the team broke down the timeline, contingencies, and tasks. They were the experts, and the project involved heavy IT lift—never fun. I also knew they could do more.

My next words made us all cringe, “We just don’t have until the end of the year. What’s possible by October?” It turns out, quite a lot. They’ll nail it….

Impatience is seldom on the short list of leadership competencies. People don’t hire coaches to help them become more impatient. Patience is a virtue. Impatience gets more done. It’s my daily wrestling match.

Push Possiblity, Inspire People

Great leaders are impatient with…

  • Possibility
  • The status quo
  • Problems
  • Stagnating results
  • Naysayers
  • Delays
  • Time wasters
  • Games
  • Gossip
  • ?

Four Ways to Inspire Through Impatience
1.  Don’t be a jerk
Impatience only works when combined with other important characteristics (e.g., trust, humility, relationships). Understand the consequences of the pressure. Are you driving the team to extreme hours, or sloppy short-cuts? Roll up your sleeves and serve.

2.  Be patient when needed
Use impatience sparingly on what matters most. Inspire passionate urgency toward your vision. Cut some slack on the small stuff. Prioritize and back off other tasks as needed to make way for the sprint.

3.  Explain why
Urgency without explanation frustrates. Ensure the team understands how the urgency links to the bigger picture.

4.  Go slow to go fast
Take the time up front to think things through. Come out of the gate slow and involve the right players. Ask provocative questions.

Sure patience is a virtue. However, done well, so is impatience.

If you’d like to further explore some of the ideas in this article, consider these AMA seminars:
The Voice of Leadership: How Leaders Inspire, Influence and Achieve Results

Achieving Leadership Success Through People

The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity™

About the Author(s)

Karin Hurt is founder of Let’s Grow Leaders. She has a diverse background of executive leadership experience in sales, customer service, human resources, merger integration, training and leadership development.

AMA is one of the most widely recognized leaders in business training, having provided corporate training solutions for over 95 years. From leadership, communication and managerial training to sales, customer service and analytical skills, AMA has developed a vast array of content and training solutions to help individuals and organizations achieve business results . Each year, AMA delivers thousands of seminars and courses across the United States. With courses offered in a  classroom near you or live online, AMA is a flexible, convenient resource for all of your organization's talent development needs. AMA also offers customized solutions based on your specific talent development requirements.