How patience helps with management

Study quantifies how taking time can improve outcomes

How patience helps with management

During the Covid-19 lockdown, Georgia Tech professor David Sluss conducted a survey to determine how a leader's patience affects their influence on their direct reports during challenging times. The survey consisted of 578 full-time U.S. working professionals from a variety of industries, with an average age of 39, most of whom were college graduates and over half of whom held managerial positions. The survey asked about their immediate supervisor's leadership behaviors and level of patience, as well as their own levels of creativity, productivity, and collaboration.

While the modern workplace might seem to be a natural enemy of patience, as deadlines tighten and the connected workplace gives instant access, Prof. Sluss’s study appeared to provide some valuable food for thought;

The results showed that patience had a significant impact on employees' self-reported creativity, collaboration, and productivity. When the leaders in the study demonstrated patience, their reports' self-reported creativity and collaboration increased by an average of 16%, and their productivity increased by 13%.

Prof. Shuss’s team then conducted further analysis to determine the impact of patience on different types of leadership behavior.

Leadership behavior is traditionally broken down into two principal sets: task-oriented and relationship-oriented. Effective leaders balance both approaches, with the most effective task-oriented behavior described as "futurist" and the most effective relationship-oriented behavior as "facilitator."

Futurists create a compelling vision and outline the metrics needed to achieve it, while facilitators foster collaboration and empower a team to reach a solution.

Task-orientated leaders

Task-oriented leadership is a leadership style that emphasizes the completion of tasks and goals as the primary focus of a leader. In this style of leadership, the leader is more concerned with achieving specific objectives, meeting deadlines, and staying within budget, rather than the personal needs and feelings of the team members.

Task-oriented leaders tend to be directive and authoritarian, providing clear instructions, setting specific performance standards, and closely monitoring the work of their team members to ensure that tasks are completed efficiently and effectively. They often prioritize structure and efficiency over collaboration and creativity.

While task-oriented leadership can be effective in situations where there are clear goals and deadlines, it may not be the best approach in situations that require innovation, flexibility, or a high degree of collaboration. Additionally, this leadership style can sometimes lead to a lack of employee engagement and motivation, as team members may feel that their personal needs and opinions are not valued.

Futurist Leaders

Futurist leadership is a leadership style that focuses on anticipating, preparing for, and shaping the future. It involves thinking ahead, identifying emerging trends and technologies, and taking proactive steps to position the organization for success in a rapidly changing environment.

Futurist leaders are forward-thinking and visionary, with a keen understanding of the potential impacts of technology, economic trends, and social and political changes. They constantly scan the external environment for emerging trends, and they encourage innovation and experimentation within their organizations to stay ahead of the curve.

Futurist leaders also prioritize diversity and inclusion, recognizing that the best ideas often come from a range of perspectives and experiences. They create a culture of collaboration and continuous learning, encouraging their team members to embrace change and seek out new opportunities for growth and development.

Overall, futurist leadership is effective in situations where there is a high degree of uncertainty and rapid change. It helps organizations to be proactive rather than reactive, and to stay ahead of the curve by anticipating and preparing for future challenges and opportunities.

Facilitative Leaders

A facilitative leader typically encourages team members to share their ideas and perspectives, and actively listens to and considers their input. They foster open communication and dialogue, allowing team members to express their thoughts and feelings freely, and create a sense of psychological safety, where people feel comfortable sharing their ideas without fear of negative repercussions.

Facilitative leaders also provide guidance and support to their team members, helping to remove obstacles and providing resources to ensure that tasks are completed successfully. They often delegate tasks and responsibilities, empowering team members to take ownership and make decisions about their work.

Overall, facilitative leadership is effective in situations that require a high degree of collaboration, innovation, and creativity. It helps to build trust and respect between team members and creates a sense of ownership and accountability, leading to higher levels of engagement and motivation.

What the study found

The study found that patience made both approaches significantly more effective, but it increased collaboration and creativity an average of 6% more in conjunction with futurist behavior than in conjunction with facilitator behavior.

The ability of patience to amplify both approaches makes sense when considering that futurists need patience when explaining their vision to those who may not understand it or have doubts about its viability, while facilitators need patience with a group's collaborative process when members are not working well together or taking longer than expected to come up with a solution.

In conclusion, the study highlights the importance of patience in leadership, as it can significantly increase employees' creativity, collaboration, and productivity, particularly when combined with effective task-oriented and relationship-oriented behaviors.

Now the big question – how patient can you be?

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