The Skill That Will Make or Break You as a Leader
It was the last session of graduate school. The professor took the podium. The first words out of her mouth were not a run down of the syllabus, a list of her credentials or even a hello. She simply asked, "Who of you manage people?" At least two-thirds of the class raised their hands.
Then she asked, "How many of you wish you didn't manage people?" Every hand stayed in the air.
The room was filled with smart, humble and charismatic, leaders. I could not, in my wildest dreams, understand why managing people was such an unwanted task for this seemingly invincible group of go-getters.
Still in my twenties and one of the youngest in the program, I viewed managing a team as hitting it big, a prize even. Why was this so awful?
What I failed to realize but soon learned in my own managing career was the following:
Leaders are only as effective as their level of patience.
The ineffective years
As you may have guessed, I learned this lesson the hard way, through a series of unfortunate management blunders all associated with my impatience.
Blunder 1: Farming out training
Being an impatient leader caused me to shy away from teaching my employees. To save myself time I had other team members train each other. Like a game of telephone the knowledge shifted so dramatically the original lessons were lost almost in their entirety.
This dramatic shift in knowledge caused a huge wave of stock-outs, poor customer experiences and many angry phone calls with clients.
The Patient Path: Taking time to teach each employee how you think, why you work the way you do and what resources they have at their fingertips creates empowered, autonomous employees that end up freeing up your day to tackle larger projects.
Blunder 2: Impatiently Interrupting
I worked with an employee that stumbled and stammered any time he talked. Impatiently I would continuously try to finish his sentences, never guessing correctly his thoughts. He would typically get upset an walk away in frustration.
The Patient Path: Stop interrupting people. When I finally stopped interrupting I found out that "stammering guy" had great ideas. I simply had to wait out the stammering a few minutes. After several interactions of waiting him out I learned there was always a golden nugget at the end of his thought.
Blunder 3: Rubbing off on my employees
Impatience breeds impatience. I witnessed this first hand when several employees on my mismanaged team came to me individually asking for raises, promotions, teams to manage and new cars. Okay, not the new car part but that's what it felt like. But when you show impatience all day long to your team that is exactly what you will get back in return.
The Patient Path: By showing your team patience they will reciprocate. Patiently teaching and listening builds trust in your team making hard conversations easier to receive. And the money talk comes up less frequently because they feel well taken care of.