Team Elements – Respect: Patience, Kindness

by Ron Potter

In our last post, we looked at the first three elements of great respect: Humility, Development, and Compassion.

Respect is the second component of great teamwork.

This week we’ll unpack further elements of Respect: Patience and Kindness.

In our final post on Patience, we’ll explore Anger and Grudges.


In today’s high paced world of do, do, do and go, go, go, we seldom think of patience as being an element of great teams.  The early Greek word that Aristotle would have used always related to people, not projects.

One of our modern-day dictionary definitions says:

Stay calm and not get annoyed.  Especially when something takes a long time, or when someone is not doing what you want them to do.

Another definition talks about not responding with annoyance or anger when faced with pain or suffering.  Patience doesn’t happen without suffering.

How often do you get annoyed by the pain and suffering of delay or what we see as incompetence?  If you’re like me, the answer is “way too often.”  However, it’s important to make sure that we don’t distribute the frustration and annoyance evenly.

When we’re part of a team it means we have responsibility and accountability to the team and team members.  Situations can be annoying.  Systems can be annoying.  People can be annoying.  But, if our goal is to grow the team, experience our own growth within the team,  and accomplish some great things together than we must keep our annoyance in check when it comes to people.

Annoyance can and will be triggered for many different reasons.  I could never list all the reasons but many that come to mind for me include:

  • Someone moving too fast or too slow to satisfy me.
  • Not doing the work the way I think it should be done.
  • Focusing on the long-term when we have pressing issues in the short term.  And vica versa.
  • Not honoring the values of the team in their work

Without going into great detail let’s look at some quick answers or reasons why you shouldn’t think of them as annoying

  • Everyone moves at a different speed.  The key is to know what deadlines are real and sticking to them.  Hold team members accountable when deadlines are missed.
  • We each work in different ways.  The key is the outcome.  Did you or the teammate get the results that were expected and needed?  If not, make sure clarification is achieved with everyone.  I’ve found that teams at high levels don’t spend enough time on clarification because they assume they’ve been there before, they assume they understand what is needed, they assume their pace and approach will be sufficient.  Notice the word assume used in every case.  I still remember a high school teacher explaining that “assume” makes an “ass” of “u” and “me.”  Don’t be an ass.  Don’t assume.
  • Each of our brains works in different ways.  On the Myers-Briggs assessment, there is a function referred to as the perceiving function.  Those who land on the “intuitive” side of perception think in conceptual terms.  They focus on the future and must have an image of what that future should be in order to deal with the daily details.  Those who fall on the sensing side of that function, work very much in the “here and now” so that they can understand how to get to a future state.  Both ways of perceiving are valid.  But each can also annoy the other.  Appreciate, honor and use the differences to help the team achieve at the highest level.


I’m going to go back to Aristotle’s original word for this category which is Love.  I’ve converted his original word to Respect because I believe business teams are less confused by the word Respect.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, the Greeks had several words that English translates into the word love.  The word that Aristotle used was agape.  I’m going to use a definition that I believe was put forth by Chip Ingram.

“Giving someone what they

    • need the most
    • deserve the least
    • at great personal expense.”

Need the most

This implies that you’ve gotten to know a person well enough to know what they may need at the moment.  Do you know your teammates as human beings or simply as human doings (know them for what they do, not who they are)?

Deserve the least

I haven’t met many business leaders or team members that have bad intentions.  However, I’ve observed a lot of bad action.  People often do things that are counter to their intentions.  A person may have just done something that makes us think they don’t deserve help, assistance, care, understanding, etc.

At great personal expense

Kindness requires that we sacrifice some of our own needs to provide what another person needs the most at the moment.  It may require us to provide the time that we don’t seem to have at the moment.  It may require us to have the courage to step into a situation that would be must easier to simply avoid.  It may require us to delay crucial decisions to build team unity.  There is a cost.

I’m going to close this section with a line from one of my favorite books titled Anyway – The Paradoxical Commandments by Kent Keith.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.  Help people anyway.

Patience and Kindness are at the heart of building great teams!

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