The Power of Patience

Patience is a virtue that all of us need in order to succeed in our many personal and professional spheres. Parenting, spousal relationships, friendships and work-related situations all demand patience as we grapple with challenging moments and unfulfilled expectations. We also need to be patient in our desire to lead and manage change, for ourselves and those around us.

Change management is a dynamic, complex process, one that goes well beyond the scope of this essay. There are some core components, however, that can be shared here which promote healthy personal and organizational growth, particularly at the beginning of a new relationship or a shift in roles. These include:

  1. Build equity – The first thing that any leader needs to do is to build equity with those around them. Invest early and often in the relationship, through complimentary notes and similar gestures as a way of developing friendship and trust. Doing so will help ensure that the ones that they hope to influence will see them as a friend and ally who is genuinely invested in their well-being.
  2. And personal efficacy – Leaders or soon-to-be leaders need to hone their skills to ensure that they have the tools to guide and inspire. Invest in yourself – through education, peer dialogue and self-reflective practices – as a way of gaining confidence and clarity about what it is that you seek to achieve and how to go about achieving it.
  3. Move slowly – Choose small, low-stakes areas to achieve some early change-related “wins.” This may include small behavioral improvements or the introduction of new, non-core programs. Such contexts will allow you to demonstrate personal capacity while demonstrating that change need not be sizable or overwhelming.
  4. Yet strategically – once you have gained some traction, identify the areas that really require change and place your focus there. You can’t address everything; too many side efforts that promise moderate benefits may take away from your core focus and leave people unsure about your true intentions. Remember, change is hard enough. Keep uncertainty and second guessing to a minimum.
  5. Remove the guesswork – Let people know what you are thinking. Most people loathe uncertainty and an unclear sense of where they stand. Set objectives, personal and organizational, and use them to drive change-related conversation. Objectives for others, of course, should be set in tandem, so that there is mutual understanding and legitimate buy-in.
  6. Make your agenda their agenda – Where possible, allow others’ feedback and interests to drive your decisions. The more that it comes from them, the likelier it is for change to stick. Also, think in terms of superordinate goals, objectives that are mutually valuable and beneficial. Keep in mind that even when the collective benefit appears obvious to you, it may not be readily apparent to others. Frame decisions and actions as ones that will ultimately bring benefit and joy to as many people as possible.

Leaders often achieve most when they pursue their visions with patience and put the requisite pieces into place so that they can bring others along to envision the future much the way that they do.