Posted by: Suresh Sundarababu | August 26, 2013

Patience – a leadership crisis


Wikipedia describes it as “the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity.”

In today’s world it might as well be a four letter word!

From the time we are born we are in a hurry to get somewhere, do anything but sit still and patience becomes one of those clichés that is meant to be given as an advice to others but not really a practical thing for us to practice. While we all love the story of how a patient tortoise won the race over a speedy rabbit, do we honestly want to be called a tortoise??!

And therein lies the leadership dilemma, dare I say, even maybe a crisis. Who in their right mind wants to be associated with all the negative connotations associated with a tortoise – slow, boring and a cliché!

Leaders these days are measured by their readiness to do something more than the results of that doing something. In a world driven by expectations of instant magical gratification and results, maybe an argument can be made that these leaders don’t really have a choice. Maybe it is O.K. to change from guard rail to guard rail at the first sliver of difficult circumstance, no matter what the cost is to the organization, its customers and most importantly its human capital!

In my humble opinion, that is exactly why patience is THE differentiator between a good leader and a great leader. Anyone can just do something and pray that it works or change the direction at the first sign of trouble and call it being nimble on their feet. It takes a great leader to have the patience, persistence and the perspiration needed to do the right thing. As Arnold H. Glasow said, “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it”.

After all the tortoise did win the race – with patience, persistence and perspiration!

May you find your inner tortoise at the first sign of your next crisis and be the great leader that you can be!



  1. […] Passionate, systematic and sustained effort will lead to greatness. And effort whoops talents butt over a period of time. Every time! And this brings back memories of my blog about the rabbit and the tortoise ( […]

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