"It is not necessary for all men to be great in action. The greatest and sublimest power is often simple patience." – Horace Bushnell
A recent story in Business Management Daily about the success of online shoe retailer Zappos brought my attention back to one of leadership’s most needed and personally challenging virtues -- patience. Like many, I am not always a patient person and continually need improvement, which is one reason why the success of Zappos caught my eye.
That Zappos excels in customer service is a given, but when asked why more organizations are not like them CEO Tony Hsieh said, “Patience.” Hsieh said most firms won’t put in the time to build employee morale and customer service. “It’s whether you’re willing to make that commitment,” he said.
We have been taught from an early age that patience is a virtue, but to what end? To be sure, patience in employee relations, business negotiations, and in achieving strategic goals is important. Let’s look at the value of patience and how it can be a game changer both personally and professionally.
Patience builds your reputation. A well-rounded leader is set apart from the rest of the pack by mastering skill sets that lead to success. At times, many of us are driven more by impatience; with ourselves and others, than by the virtue of patience. Our impatience can be our demise. Thomas Edison said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Building your reputation as a leader in these challenging times requires patience. Managing your reputation as a leader begins by mastering the skill of patience and not giving up.
Patience gives way to remarkable results. Part of the Zappos success story comes from strong employee engagement. “The No. 1 focus and priority for the company, even though we want the brand to be about customer service, is company culture," Hsieh said. "Our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff, like great customer service, will just happen.” Developing a culture of employee engagement like Zappos can only be realized through patient dedication. Building your brand and reputation takes times; it doesn’t happen overnight. Successful brand leadership begins with patience and a commitment to the due diligence necessary for excellence.
Patience leads to positive recognition. Ultimately, there is a reward for the virtue of patience. The reward may be greater sales, increased customer satisfaction, stronger profits, or a promotion. Whatever the measure of realization looks like for you it is the dividend of patience and hard work. But this realization begins with understanding the causes of impatience.
Vic Lawrence at selfgrowth.com says the most basic reasons for impatience are lack of control, lack of understanding, lack of planning, lack of communication and unrealistic expectations. When you claim control of these issues you can claim the rewards that patience can deliver.
Patience is your most formidable resource. Many people in business are looking for a leg up on the competition and ways to improve company performance. Sharp business plans and the best talent money can buy are no substitutes for the virtues needed to guide you in the right direction.
Patience is not easy to come by and when it matters most you want to be the leader who is making smart decisions based upon sound principles rather than knee-jerk reactions. Patience is one virtue that will serve you well. I just wish it didn’t take so long to learn.
© 2012 Doug Dickerson Doug Dickerson is a nationally recognized leadership speaker and writer. He is the author of the new book, Great Leaders Wanted. Visit Doug’s blog at www.dougsmanagementmoment.blogspot.com or follow him @managemntmoment