Do you feel the urgent need to act? Or is a patient approach best? Do you choose your approach deliberately or are you a victim of circumstances?
Chicken with Your Head Chopped Off
I remember growing up my Grandpa would chastise me for acting before thinking. Having grown up in the country near “The Egg Capital of the World” (Petaluma, CA), his colorful description for my thoughtless behavior alluded to the body of a chicken that runs around the yard after its head is cut off. I got the point.
Oftentimes when faced with a problem, we rush into action. Without taking a moment to think before acting, you and your team may start trying to solve a problem before agreeing exactly what problem you are addressing and how you will collectively approach the solution. Without having the restraint to think before acting, your team may try to solve different problems with different methods which will waste time. Sometimes you need to go slow to go fast.
Taking a moment to ask a few questions before rushing to action can help bring your team together, starting with the question “why.” Once your team has agreed on that answer, the next question is “who” – who needs to be involved? After that, you decide collectively “what” you’re going to do. Taking the time to ask these leadership questions helps you align your team and set it up for success. You can read more about leadership questions that guide your team here.
I have found that different leaders can have different leadership styles in terms of their tendency towards urgency or patience. Self-aware leaders will develop these two important leadership skills: first—determine which situations require patience and which require urgency; second—understand that every person, including yourself, has a natural inclination towards patience or impatience and learn to deliberately adjust your style depending on the needs of the situation.
Patience vs. Impatience
As Grandpa poignantly pointed out—I am an impatient person. I feel the need to get started on a project, often before everyone else is on board. I have learned to restrain my impatience, to be more attentive to those who are exhibiting patience, and to understand why they are doing that. This restraint is not easy for me—I am still a work in progress. Back to the chicken metaphors: I must remind myself that if we are taking the risk of crossing the road, we better have a good reason why we are doing it.
What’s your patience-impatience leadership style? How does it help you, and how does it hold you back? What techniques do you use to adjust your style based on your project’s circumstances? In chapter 6 of my book Teamwork 9.0, I relate the patience-impatience styles to each Enneagram type. Knowing the Enneagram type of yourself and your teammates will help you understand the natural patience-impatience tendencies of your team. This knowledge will inform you of adjustments you can make as circumstances change.
Be Patient with Yourself
In normal times, those who tend to be impatient can put a great deal of stress on themselves. In these extraordinary times, that stress is compounded. Learning to calm your sense of urgency will help you keep your stress levels down. We all need to be more patient with ourselves and those around us. How are you exercising patience during the pandemic?