How does time help leaders? Three answers: patience, skill-building and self-care.
Patience: the knowledge that things don’t happen all at once…
Leaders who insist on speedy results when speedy results are impossible lose out on teachable moments, which means they lose followers with potential.
Let’s assume you pick your team members carefully enough that their development is well worth celebrating and supporting. A patient leader brings team members along so they can be more engaged, effective and mobile. And patience makes a lot of things possible.
Leaders who build great teams understand that people need to learn the skills to make a team great. First steps are often awkward. A patient leader helps people learn by supporting their growth, helping them move out of their comfort zones and into new roles and responsibilities.
Skill-building: not just for followers
It’s important to resist internal and external pressures for quick achievement. Sometimes the superhero achievement sprint is necessary. But more often, we’re eager to please before we have the stamina and skills to do so. In order to avoid injury, we need to use the time we have to build our leadership muscles.
Classes, books, coaching, connections — however you train, make it good! Use your time to add to your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. Be strategic; don’t overwhelm yourself. Follow your gut; push yourself in the directions that are most interesting, most useful.
Patient leaders are patient with themselves, honoring their own process and development and letting their ambition and instinct guide them as they work toward their goals.
Self-Care: Time’s Biggest Gift to the Spirited Leader
I’ve left the most important for the last. Leaders need to be patient with their own and their followers’ training — that’s often easier than taking care of ourselves when the time is right.
Ambition for ourselves and others satisfies our adrenaline and need for achievement. But when it’s time for gentleness and healing, rest and play, we may deny ourselves the necessary pleasure.
Necessary because without rest and play, we lose our agility and flexibility as leaders. Pleasure because it is the foundation of all pleasure in our lives to heal and be gentle with ourselves. Necessary pleasure — the foundation of excellence for leadership.
If there is no time for this foundational self-care, there can only be a feeling of crisis — adrenaline high without release, so that real crisis and imaginary crisis become indistinguishable, and leadership becomes martyrdom. A burned out martyr leader cannot be of service to anyone.
Time: we have more than we hope for, less than we might wish. A good leader uses his or her time well, finding patience, building skills and honoring the need for self-care.
These three gifts may manifest differently for different leaders. What do they look like for you, as a leader, in your own life? Which is hardest? Which is most rewarding? I’d love to hear stories….