Don’t be an impatient leader! Good leaders know how to wait

16, 2021

8 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

I think that waiting must be at the top of the most unpleasant emotions but at the same time more typical of man, being on the other hand a clear sign of existence. Who waits, lives. Who waits, wishes …

Essential leaders are those who know how to wait. For example, they do not despair for their employees to mature suddenly or to give complete evidence overnight of their ability to make extraordinary decisions. No. They are capable of waiting for them until they begin to bear, gradually and progressively, their fruits. Because forming another is that: it is setting an example, it is showing paths, it is enlightening, but it is also allowing the other to take their first steps, being able to stumble there.

Impatient leaders don’t show up, because they ask for immediate results. And they are lousy choosing successors. In general, they will lean towards those most similar to themselves, allowing themselves to be guided only by identification mechanisms. They do not know how to distinguish important collaborators, if they are shy or did not find a way to make themselves visible before their eyes.

We cannot advance processes at will. It doesn’t work like that with people!

On the other hand, the leader must also learn to wait for strategies to develop on the ground. It is tremendous for the teams to go from one place to the other, because one Monday they are told something that, as it did not work right away, they changed it and the following week the same thing again.

Waiting is committing to the “meanwhile.” That is, each time a strategy is designed or a new idea is examined, it must be taken to the real world and observe its own dynamics. We must wait when things don’t work out right away and not torture ourselves with the command: “If it doesn’t work, we must turn the wheel quickly.” Not again. The best leaders are quick to make decisions, but they don’t move the wheel all the time! In recent years, since the word “proactivity” became popular, it led many people to believe that, to be so, you had to jump all the time from here to there. And that’s not driving, gentlemen …

Let me also say that there is nothing passive about waiting … to be said by Gandhi but rather, who made a thunderous revolution using subtle but moving and profound words and gestures.

The noise, the permanent movement, the histrionics do not help leaders who pretend to be different. This kind of vocation to occupy the center of the scene at all times prevents the collaborators from being the real protagonists in the organization. The leader who pretends to be one must keep this in mind, and advocate every day to be in the corner, assisting his people and waiting for them if that day he does not want to or does not feel strong enough to fight.

The best leaders are quick to make decisions, but they don’t move the wheel all the time! / Image:

Accompanying, restraining, supporting, listening, being next to the other is possible in a context of respectful waiting where the times of others may not coincide with mine. And I’m not the one to force them.

But waiting is being alert in case something comes to disturb that tranquility because of course, the world is neither static nor predictable. But you know what? The only way you can react quickly is if you slept well at night. That is, for a leader to be able to act, finding the best ways in his reality, it is essential that he has learned to wait , to tolerate silences, doubts, discomfort … if he is unable to sleep at night, because his worries they grip the heart in nightmares, then the best recipe would be to teach it to wait.

Finally, I also want to underline the learning condition of the one who waits.

Anyone who, for example, starts a career or buys a book with the intention of reading it, takes a course in something new, clearly understands that they will not be able to reach any end if it is not after a while. So, the one who waits is open to learning and boy is that important (in fact, numerous studies consider Learnability the key competency to survive the future work of the next ten years).

Practical exercises

What could we do to improve on this kind of art of patience?

I think it is important to start at the beginning and not minimize the issue with childish arguments such as: “If I want to improve my leadership, I should communicate better with others”, or “It is more useful for me to learn Excel than to wait …”. I reiterate: If you do not know how to wait, it is very difficult for you to achieve any result.

Then, analyze how we are in this matter. Specifically, if I recognize myself as a person who has a hard time waiting or only in specific situations. Quick answers are not worth it here (don’t be fooled by your own symptom).

Take some time to think. Sit in a comfortable place, take a blank sheet of paper and write all the situations that make you impatient, those in which you find it difficult to wait without much thought. You can write down things about work or your life in general, such as: “I can’t stand that after five years the woman in payments takes a week to put together the agenda and I have to go every time” or “Time takes me off the hook how long it takes to go to and from the grocery store ”.

And on the other side of the page, the opposite: all the situations in which time does not matter, and it flows (“Play with my son”. “Cook”. “Train new employees …”).

You will discover a lot with this …

A second exercise, also with pictorial reminiscences, has to do with drawing what waiting means for you. Without any other rules. Again, you take a blank page, pencils and let your imagination fly freely. Do not worry that your unconscious will guide the line. Do not worry.

Or, a good variant for those who do not like drawing or are uncomfortable with that practice, is to find an analogy. Specifically, it is about assimilating waiting to a place, and describing all its characteristics, with peculiarities and details . For example, there may be someone who assimilates waiting on a desert island, highlighting the feeling of loneliness, helplessness or helplessness. And there will be others who assimilate it to a closed, hermetic place that allows us to think while waiting as something claustrophobic, from which it is imperative to get out. Others will choose a plane, in which they depend on another (the pilot and his expertise), the other passengers, who even regulate the possibility of going to the bathroom, the crew (on which my comfort on board will depend), etc.

The analogy symbolically illuminates our causes as to why waiting bothers us so much. What does it mean in our phantasmatic unconscious. Knowing it will help us to do something with this from a playful perspective and without judging ourselves.

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