Being a passionate and patient leader embodies a combination of virtues that demonstrate a very powerful style of leadership. Taking each of these virtues to the extreme, with the exclusion of other complementary attributes, could have damaging outcomes. Just demonstrating passion can mean being overly excited, over-powering, or having a disregard for others. Just being patient can mean being slow, unfocused, or lacking drive. Here are three reasons why passion and patience are such good companions.
- Be intentional about both
Leadership is never about just one style, one approach, or one dominant behavior. It is about different attributes working together. Emphasizing these behaviors at different times and being intentional about practicing them in the moment. For example, passion is so important when people need to see a vision, need inspiring, and motivating. Patience is so important when people need to be listened to, understood, or change is not immediately evident.
A passionate and patient leader can balance these attributes in a skillful way to demonstrate energy and drive while simultaneously showing the capacity to engage, listen, and wait for others to get on board. An agile leader can show more passionate leadership when the need is to enthuse and inspire, while practicing patient leadership when the need is to help others understand implications or when events need to align before progress can be made. Great leadership is being able to consciously flex styles and not to be overcome by personal impulse or preference, nor to be swayed inappropriately by external events.
- Increase your emotional intelligence
Being emotionally intelligent is to understand your own emotions and their impact on others, and also to understand how your own emotions are influenced by those around you. Where this plays into passionate and patient leadership is to grow a personal level of emotional intelligence and understanding that consciously impacts behavior. For example, if a leader knows that they are particularly passionate, then knowing whether to let this come across full-bore or to moderate it is an emotionally intelligent state. Alternatively, a particularly patient leader will know when to raise the pace and move the agenda forward rather than slip into procrastination or indecision.
Others may want a leader to be more passionate or patient at any given time. Reading the situation and understanding the source of this insistence is also how an emotionally intelligent leader decides whether to adjust their style or not. Passionate people may wish for a passionate leader. The same goes for patient people. But wholeheartedly passionate or patient people may need a leader with different attributes to get the best from them.
- Be future-focused and present-conscious
Agile leaders can often plan to adapt their levels of passion and patience depending on the circumstances. For example, if a leader is giving a presentation about future vision, a passionate description of the future might need to be accompanied with a more patient representation of timeline expectations. Or a patient conversation with an underperforming employee might need to be accompanied with a passionate commitment to their development and confidence in their ability to deliver better performance.
Mindfully developing a passionate as well as a patient response to circumstances is the mark of a leader who understands that leadership is not just being in the moment, but who also understands the impact their leadership has on future engagement and commitment.
Passion and patience are just two leadership attributes. Comparing and contrasting them in the manner above demonstrates how leaders need to flex behavior to be at their best. During the Covid-19 pandemic, both passion and patience are essential leadership attributes – passion to bring energy in finding ways through current difficulties, and patience to lead those who are inundated by circumstances beyond their control.