Patience is a Virtue

“We live in an instant gratification world. If e-mails are not responded to within hours, something is amiss. Social media promises a continual glimpse into people’s lives. Success is quickly followed by “What have you done for me lately?” Long-term can mean later in the week as we try to respond to the pressures of daily living.

Our turbulent modern world has been characterized as volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA). These four characteristics require that organizations become nimble. Yet, while the response of individuals and organizations requires agility, boldness, responsiveness and speed, in many cases if a rapid response is too hasty, it will be flawed. I suggest that successful leaders navigate the paradox of responding quickly — but not too quickly — with patience.

In a world of rapid change, delayed responses lead to lost opportunity; but without patience, haste may lead to bad decisions.

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David (Dave) O. Ulrich
David (Dave) O. Ulrich, PhD, is Rensis Likert Collegiate Professor of Business Administration and Director, Human Resource Executive Program, University of Michigan. He is also a Partner, the RBL Group.
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