Have you ever found yourself getting agitated in the queue in the supermarket? Or felt your blood boiling while sat in traffic?

With our world quickly becoming a place where we can get everything instantly, without thought or justification, could we be losing our ability to be patient?

Gone are the days where we would sit waiting for a letter to arrive, take a trip to the library to choose new books or wait a week for the next episode of our favourite programme. We are quickly turning into a society where we want, or even demand, things to be available to us instantly.

Over the past few years we have also seen this shift in attitude in the workplace.

It seems to be that society expects those in charge to take action quickly and decisively. Patience is too often thought of as a weakness when it comes to leadership skills.

Effective managers and leaders are often expected to make split-second decisions and move on to the next solution if the current one isn’t working. If they take a moment to consider options or think strategically about what to do, they are often viewed as slow or even incompetent.

We categorise what we believe to be qualities of an ‘inspirational leader’ as; honest, fair, motivational, trustworthy, passionate and an excellent communicator. Take a look at Michelle Obama’s 10 most admirable leadership qualities here.

So, what about patience as a leadership skill?

Surely in a crisis, we need our leaders to act with patience. If our managers and leaders can’t retain composure in the face of frustration or adversity, they certainly won’t be able to keep others calm.

Patience is essential when defining what true leadership skills are all about. If our direct reports show signs of strain or uncertainty, we need to be able to support them, not get irritated.

If we think about what patience is, it’s having the ability to stay calm in the face of disappointment, adversity or distress. Having it allows us to better process challenging situations. It helps us sort out our thoughts and bring our feelings under control demonstrating high levels of emotional intelligence.

Patience reduces the risk of angry outbursts. It helps us not to resort to snap judgments, improving the quality of our decisions. Patient managers and leaders will have better relationships in the workplace and find they are more credible and respected.

It’s not to be confused with inactivity – far from it. Patience is a cornerstone of true leadership.

Impellus is a UK-wide provider of management, leadership and core commercial skills training. See our relevant courses:

Management & Leadership Skills