It takes as much work to build great teams as it does to build or become a great leader.
I believe that if you were to ask my family (wife and two daughters) they would tell you that I’m the most patient man in the world…. until I’m not! I seem to have a great deal of patience for most situations but when I run out of patience I don’t come down gradually. Nor do I stair step down one level at a time. My patience ends like a rock being kicked off a 1,000 foot cliff that plummets with the acceleration of gravity until it smashes on the floor of the canyon. My girls actually developed into an early warning system for me. When I would see them quickly jump up and bolt from the room in unison, I began to understand that my patience was approaching the cliff and they had picked up the warning signs.
One of my clients currently has a similar trait. He has a great deal of desire and compassion to grow and develop his team and constantly pushes them to become better then they were the year before. He will start a project that is going to challenge and grow them over time and then gives them enough time to accomplish the task. But, if he is not seeing sufficient progress as critical deadlines approach, his rock will eventually get kicked over the cliff and then he jumps in with great fury and gets the task completed.
Why do we reach this cliff where things go bad in a hurry? A couple of reasons are very obvious to me.
1. Leaders mistakenly assume that members of their team will “see it” (understand all that needs to be figured out in order for the growth spurt to take place) or will figure it out along the way in their effort to complete the task or project
2. A basic misunderstanding of good project management
By definition, a growth experience can’t necessarily be figured out ahead of time. It’s a new experience. You’re figuring out something that you’ve never seen or experienced before. You’ll either not see it at all or if you do you may not execute in a very efficient or effective manner. Leaders often forget their own learning curve experiences. They made these same mistakes years ago or even if it was only recently that they figured it out, they now only remember the end state of the new knowledge, not what they went through to learn the new behavior or understanding.
Leaders must work harder then they expect to help people understand the new expectations, learn the processes it will take to get there, and have a vision of the new normal. Develop patience for the sake of your teams.