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Here's the next in our series of weekly managerial TIPS (Techniques, Insights, and Practical Solutions)
to help you better engage your team in the activities that lead to higher performance.

CORE Bites Issue #38

Patience may be a virtue but IMPATIENCE gets more done!

When I review lists of desirable leadership characteristics, I rarely (never) see impatience on the short list; I never hear that impatience is a sought after trait for those interviewing potential candidates for a job; managers aren't signing up for courses to help them become more impatient; development plans don't include the phrase "You need to demonstrate more impatience."

The reality is impatience gets a bad rap because it's been drilled into us since childhood that "Patience is a Virtue." But while my grandmother may be right that there are virtuous aspects to being patient, what I've found is IMPATIENCE gets more done!

Now I'm not talking about the kind of impatience that leads to hurried decision-making; or not taking the time to listen to other people's perspectives; or finishing other people's sentences (because you know what they're going to say anyway); or jumping to conclusions rather than thinking things through. No, I'm not talking about that kind of impatience ...

What I've found is most successful leaders are impatient in a healthy and productive way. They're impatient with the status quo, with recurring problems, with plateaued results, with negativity and bad attitudes, with unnecessary delays, with games and politics, and with gossip (to name a few). This type of impatience can be a powerful virtue because it spawns action and unleashes creativity and inspiration.

Impatience isn't inherently bad ... it's how you EXPRESS your impatience that can hurt you.

High Value Activity (HVA) Action Steps

Here are a few HVA TIPS that will help you utilize your impatience to get more done without appearing ... well ... impatient:

  • Don't be a Jerk about it: As a leader, impatience only really works in conjunction with other important relationship characteristics such as humility, transparency, and trust. If you lack these qualities, you run the risk that people will interpret your impatience as arrogance; that you're uninterested in their views and perspectives; and you run the risk that they'll see you as a Know-it-All. Remember, impatience doesn't give you permission to act disrespectfully.
  • Accept the Reality: Impatience caused by wishing things were different only causes frustration and diverts energy from making things different. If you try to control things you have no control over you've engaged the emotional part of your brain which can evoke the maladaptive aspects of impatience.
  • The Mary Poppins Approach (Small Doses): Use impatience only on what matters most. Cut your employees some slack on the less important items (as you've heard many times "Don't sweat the small stuff"). If you use your impatience sparingly, you'll create a sense of urgency that people will respond to. If it's an all-the-time-every-time thing, your employees will burn out and start to disengage. When a sense of urgency is needed, explain why—urgency without explanation frustrates. One effective way to know how to keep things in balance is to open your ears to your employees while keeping your eyes focused on progress and results.

I'd love to hear how this HVA works for you!

Neil Dempster, PhD, MBA
RESULTant™ and Behavioral Engineer

Quote of the Week

"Patience is the art of concealing your impatience."

— Guy Kawasaki —