I am guilty. 

Guilty of being impatient, especially when the stakes are high. I've even done some pretty stupid things that, in hindsight, make me cringe. For instance, in my early days as a founder, I would tell people to hurry up and get to their point because I thought they were wasting time.

It was insulting and literally the worst thing I could have done, but I have evolved since then and I've come to understand this very important trade-off between saving a few minutes here and there, and what it costs.

Impatience kills possibility. In the business realm, it also kills innovation. The impact of this on the bottom line and what's possible is immeasurable. 

The best strategic decisions or initiatives come from a series of conversations that take some teasing out. Sticking with the process allows for creativity to take the driver's seat. When this happens, unforeseen breakthroughs are possible. 

Here's what to avoid in conversations with team members to ensure you are fostering an environment that breeds innovation.

Don't dismiss people without first getting to the root of their concern. 

It's easy to assume if people are criticizing your idea, the best thing to do is just dismiss them, walk away, act like it never happened. But here's another way to approach that situation: get to the bottom of what they are trying to communicate, their concerns, and why they feel the way they do.

These conversations take time and effort, but in the long term, as a leader, they will help you see things that perhaps you didn't take into account before. When working with a team, trust that you're surrounding yourself with these individuals for a reason, which is that they have things to offer that you don't: a different perspective. 

While the end result is important, the journey is what matters most.

I was so hell-bent on getting to that finish line that I would often run my own colleagues off the road on our journey. That's a huge mistake. Giving people the opportunity to speak  without disruption or rush, offers valuable insight you can't get just anywhere.

Allowing your team members to take you through their process can unlock the door to exceptional working relationships, ones where employees feel valued, appreciated, and accountable. By letting team members be themselves and express their thoughts and feelings on your watch, you are empowering them in ways that, over time, will certainly increase your bottom line. As Oprah said, ultimately, what people want is to be heard and seen.

Impatience breeds an environment of anxiety.

In a recent client session, where we were working with the most senior executives of a multi-billion dollar market cap company, it was clear that the undercurrent of the interactions was driven by anxiety. And by the way, that exhausts people. 

One of the senior members of the team said he was just drained by the time he got home. Operating within this context crushes creativity and possibility, not to mention burns your people out. Whether or not you realize it, you may be giving off subtle cues that point to your own anxiety. This can have a ripple effect, especially when working in close quarters with your team.

Are you tapping your foot incessantly, racing to get through a meeting? Are you exuding stand-offish vibes that demonstrate you're concerned with only work and nothing else? Body language counts, and if your body language or behaviors are causing anxiety and nervous thoughts to spread throughout your team, it may be time to examine what you can do to get things under control.

As a working professional, the desire to save time isn't just expected. Often, it's required. But to know when to save time and when to generously give it time is an art to master. Especially, if you are committed to foster an empowering environment around you and elevate your teammates.

Published on: Jan 29, 2020
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