[April 08, 2014] Senior leadership means knowing when to act, when to speak, and when to make a decision. Because senior leaders are involved more at the strategic level work (and thus less at the tactical level), it is not typically necessary to be quick to make a move. Senior leadership in this respect is similar to the game of chess – patience is a virtue.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus, as well as many others from ancient to modern times, wrote that to have patience is to be among those who possess the most admirable of human traits. From Shakespeare to the Bible, from St. Augustine to Leonardo de Vinci, philosophers to psychologists, whenever we hear of practical advice, patience is mention more often than nearly any other human characteristic. I would also venture to say that our grandmothers taught us the same lesson (grandmothers being exceptional people, of course).
Senior leaders know this to be true. All of us have learned through many relevant experiences (hard and often embarrassing lessons) that to make a hasty decision is frequently the wrong path to take. Often times, it is better to make no decision at all, see what develops, and wait for new information that may very well be beneficial.
Patience would seem to be an easy trait to conquer, but not so easy for those of us who are inclined to be aggressive in our legacy leadership positions. Senior leaders however must advance this skill, hone it, and use it wisely.
The acme of professional skills is the use of patience.
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A few more quotes on “patience”:
“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own
imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them.” – St. Francis de Sales
“Endeavor to be always patient of the faults and imperfections of others; for thou hast many faults and imperfections of thine own that require forbearance. If thou art not able to make thyself that which thou wishest, how canst thou expect to mold another in conformity to thy will?” – Thomas à Kempis
“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” – St. Augustine
“Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” – Romans 8:25
“Love is patient.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4
“Everything comes gradually and at its appointed hour.” – Ovid
“If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.” – Rainer Maria Rilke
“Never cut a tree down in the wintertime. Never make a negative decision in the low time. Never make your most important decisions when you are in your worst moods. Wait. Be patient. The storm will pass. The spring will come.” – Robert H. Schuller
“How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” – Shakespeare
“It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you.” – Charlotte Brontë
“How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success.” – Elbert Hubbard
“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along, with patience and equanimity.” – Carl Jung
“Patience means waiting for people, places, and things beyond our control. Patience means letting go and trusting that a Higher Power is in control.” – Night Light
“Impatience with others only generates their impatience with me.” – One Day at a Time in Al-Anon