Thoughts on Leadership: Patience Is the Most Used Virtue of Great Leaders

There are 7 billion people on the planet now – each unique in his or her own way. We engage in relationships – marriage, work, church, etc. – with people who are vastly different than we are and we often struggle to get along. One of the greatest challenges of leadership is learning to be patient with people. The payoff is huge, but it’s certainly not easy. In his book, "Winning With People," John Maxwell mentions five people principles, one of which is the “Patience Principle.” He explains that, “Our journey with others is slower than the journey alone.” This is so true, isn’t it?

Part of a leader's job is to develop the people around them. With this in mind, it's easy to see that the person you may be having a hard time with was placed in your path for a reason.

It's not always the "other" person who presents the challenge, though. Sometimes we are the ones who aren't easy to get along with. This is a humbling thought, but we certainly aren’t perfect in our relational skills either. This is why it's essential for us to be even more patient with others.

How do you find that extra bit of patience?

It’s one thing to know you need to be more patient. It’s another to know how to practice it. Here are my thoughts on this:

  • See the gifts in people. Nobody is useless. Some people make themselves virtually so by their own destructive choices and when this happens in an organization, sometimes they have to go, but by virtue of creation, nobody is useless. Everyone has something to contribute.
  • See yourself in people. Try to find those characteristics of developing leaders that you once saw in yourself.
  • See the potential in people. Realize that your patience with someone today may give them a better chance at greatness, thereby extending your influence even further. Everybody has potential – some may not see it fulfilled – but everybody has it.
  • Make it a conscious decision. Patience with people doesn’t happen by accident. It’s purposeful and intentional. You know you’re going to encounter someone a little difficult today. Determine that you’ll have a predisposition toward graciousness.

Managing relationships is the tough side of leadership. Almost anybody can manage numbers and tasks. People make up every kind of institution and organization. Without people skills, we’re going nowhere, so make this your first and primary leadership discipline. Decide to be patient with people.

Without patience, we may not push through to the long-term results we desire. If we give up on people, we miss out on opportunities to help them grow. Not only that, we also short-circuit our own growth. In the real estate business, we may work with people who need extra attention and care. Dealing patiently with them is the best way to help them through those tough moments. It is impossible to control all the circumstances that can ruin our goal; in that case too, the only thing to do is to apply generous doses of patience.

Patience is a needed chapter in the book of leadership virtues. At Intero, we encourage everyone to develop patience and to recognize that patience can be developed in even the most impatient people. By gaining and maintaining a big picture perspective of your job and organization and by persisting with passion, you too can practice and perfect your patience. Seeing your patience succeed in the long run will be the best reward for your efforts.