Ever found yourself seated at the Board table but reflecting that it felt more like a circus tent?
Or at some point in the throes of day-to-day business, been overwhelmed by the sense that your workplace is actually a child care centre, and not the substantial business run by fully fledged adults that you had in mind?
Patience is a skill that’s tricky to master, and when your mother told you it was a virtue, she was thinking of your management career. Because it’s the number one tool in your leadership kit when it comes to navigating employee contentment, engagement and teamwork. Dealing with chronic under-performers, or misfits and mavericks who just can’t or won’t get along with the rest of the team, or reaching agreement when all points of view differ and won’t budge.
Resisting the impulse to react in the heat of the moment takes grit and determination. Sometimes it’s tempting to send those who are misbehaving back to their desks without supper.
So how to build the resilience – and patience – you need?
For the sake of goodwill, you must try, if only because it’s the right thing to do. You pay their salary, you recruited them, oversee the headcount. You must therefore master the art of patience in order to get the most out of your people.
Creating an environment that sends clear messages of expectations is an absolute cornerstone. Get expectations in place, so that you don’t end up exploring them in retrospect.
That said, it’s never too late to change course - even when you are in the thick of a workplace tantrum. As the boss, you get to draw a line in the sand. Before it gets to that, try these four simple strategies to make patience a primary principle.
It’s a cliché maybe, but feelings of frustration bring about muscle tension everywhere – including in those muscles that engulf your lungs. So breathe! In turning your attention away from the frustration and onto your breathing, you help keep your brain fuelled with oxygen and on track to making calm choices.
Don’t forget, our feelings influence our thoughts. So when you’re saturation levels are up and you’re good and oxygenated, your neurons at least have a fighting chance of working through the tough situation - with resilience.
A calm and patient environment is only possible if you lead those around you with good intent and trust. Show others that you’ve got the ability to be nice without expecting something in return – or calculating the leverage you’re gaining.
“When leaders inspire those they lead, people dream of a better future, invest time and effort in learning more, do more for their organisations and along the way become leaders themselves. A leader who takes care of their people and stays focused on the well-being of the organisation can never fail.” - Lt. Gen. George Flynn
Building agreement when points of view differ around the table can be tricky. This is when opinions are aired, tempers can flare and at least one patient influencer is essential. Sure, sometimes an authoritative approach or an executive decision may be required, but simply insisting it’s your way or the highway without bothering to get buy-in from your team can be really unsettling and it’s not necessarily the way forward.
To get others to buy into the way you see things and reach agreement around the table, you’ll need to ask the right questions and point respectfully to the different viewpoints present. Asking your colleagues to think about things from other perspectives often allows them to arrive at the same conclusion – for themselves. This is the art of persuasion.
The cornerstone of any leadership style is building great relationships and trust within a team. It motivates people to take on tasks that they may not otherwise want to do, and fosters a ‘follow-me’ philosophy. Be friendly, smile, give encouragement, converse and laugh. These are all qualities that are appreciated, respected and often admired by those around you.
By connecting, especially with those that you lead, you gain the leverage to handle those tough moments with the patience and grace required to defuse most situations.
Keep things meaningful and lead by example. Simple changes can really bring about big impact - so use these four strategies to get you out of the circus tent and getting the most out of your team.