Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management

Patience – A Leadership Principle


During the last few weeks and months so much has changed for all of us. With the recent pandemic we’ve seen many things change that we heretofore took for granted, things we’d become so accustomed to were transformed within days. It’s left us wondering how long it will take to get back to normal or ask whether ‘normal’ will ever be the same. It’s been a trial of endurance to say the least.

My intention is not to cover recent global events, but instead to focus on how we react to what’s happening in our lives; to take a deeper look at ways we can survive hardships and come out stronger as a result.


Too often I find myself in a state of mind where I want something to change, now. Often in these situations I’ve done everything I can, and I find myself waiting for someone else to act. My knee-jerk reaction is to call them or somehow bring to their attention that they need to act, they need to get moving, we don’t have time to wait. The real answer, however, is that I need to be patient and let things unfold naturally. I need to have the discipline to slow down, step back, take a fresh look at the situation and let it unfold the way it’s meant to unfold.

Patience is a leadership principle, and those who want to improve their leadership skills will make it a point of focus. There are at least three attributes that will help you improve your patience; leaders include these in their daily regimen:

  1. Trust: When things come up that require you to wait and be patient, you need to trust they will happen in a timely manner, trust that the responsible party will do their part. Perhaps even more important, you need to behave so that others will trust you. It’s a two-way street.
  2. Composure: Genuine leaders show composure in difficult situations. They know plans take time to develop, more strategic proposals take longer to unfold. As D. Moran writes: “True leaders recognize that patience enables them to take stock of the situation, to understand what is required, and wait while they build the capacity to take appropriate and effective action.” Such waiting requires composure.
  3. Respect: No one does things quite like you, and that can lead to feelings of annoyance, which too often gets communicated non-verbally. The better solution is to develop true respect for different approaches that other people take to accomplish a task. Building respect is having a positive attitude towards those with whom you interact

There are additional attributes that are key to building lasting patience. The key is recognizing your areas of weakness and taking action to improve. In my case—in the midst of finding my next work adventure—I’m focusing on composure, and on growing my patience with the people I’m waiting on for answers. Things will work out…I just need to be patient with the process.

Questions: Why is patience so difficult to master? What attributes are you working to improve? Please leave a comment in the space below.

The Product Management Perspective: One of the biggest areas I’ve seen product managers struggle with patience is waiting on engineering to complete their work. We want work to get done quickly and correctly, and no one wants to miss deadlines. However, the worst thing you can do as a product manager is to nag the teams your working with to do their work faster (or better). Exercise patience, it will pay big dividends in the long run.

4 thoughts on “Patience – A Leadership Principle

  1. Very nice to read about patience as a trait of leadership. Trust plays a huge role in enabling that patience to allow for collaboration and long term focus. Thank you for this nice piecev

  2. Vinay, you are correct that trust is key to enabling patience. It takes time and focus to build. Thanks for your contribution.

  3. so happy to read a new blog from you. i can understand the new normal must have changed alot of things. But i want to encourage you that you are still inspiring some of us here and i always look forward to reading your leadership articles. Patience is very key especially in this new normal because most leaders are after the result but find it difficult to wait for the process. but we all need patience so we can wait for the process and carry our team members along with us.

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