Patience - Steve Barkley


I have written in an earlier blog about the need for teachers and school leaders to have a sense of urgency when it comes to addressing the needs of students as learners and the need for changes in school practices that are stuck in paradigms of the past.

I shared John Kotter’s, the author of A Sense of Urgency, identification of the need for leaders to create a sense of urgency by getting people to see and feel the need for change. He suggests that without urgency, any change effort is doomed. The sense of urgency is the attack on complacency.

I have frequently defined the need for educational leaders to be optimist as they must see a future that often has no data to support it. They see students without a history of learning success being successful. They believe teachers, who have yet to catch the desire to have a greater impact on student learning, will. Perhaps most importantly they envision themselves leading changes that they have yet developed the skills or strategies to accomplish.

As principals, instructional coaches, and teacher leaders, we need to be on fire before we can kindle the staffs we lead.

This week a message on twitter suggested that patience was an important leadership skill. How does the need for urgency align with a need for patience?


I found a blog by Doug Moran that examined patience as a leadership virtue.

“Patience is an easy thing to talk about, but it is extremely difficult to practice. Webster’s defines it as “the quality of being capable of bearing affliction calmly.” Most of us think of patience as a construct of time, but I prefer to think of it more broadly –enduring difficulty and hardship while preparing to act. Patience requires us to bear the impatience of others, and the snipping and nagging that goes with it.”

In the writing and presenting that I have done on teaching students about effort, I present that patience is an indicator of effort because as we initially put forth effort we see no payoff. Many of us have done the week- long diet. A whole seven days of eating properly and exercising. Then jumping on the scale and seeing no change in our weight. Boy, talk about “enduring difficulty and hardship while preparing to act“. Many diets end at this spot as we lack the patience to continue the effort, “bearing affliction calmly.”

I was reminded of teachers’ need for patience as I recently coached a teacher who was intent on having students discover a math rule, rather than teaching the rule to the students. She shared in a pre-conference her plan for allowing students to struggle and draw wrong conclusions initially. As the lesson unfolded she struggled to be patient with partial understanding awaiting students’ continued work. In the post conference she shared she was glad the lesson was being observed as it helped her consciously wait. Her patience was rewarded as students discovered the pattern and applied it.


Ritch Eich , author of Truth, Trust + Tenacity:  How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary Leaders posted a blog describing elements of leadership patience. (P.A.T.I.E.N.C.E.)

Purpose. Patient leaders understand that having a purpose—and sticking to it—is essential if you want meaningful change

Approachability. Patient leaders are open to change and understand the value in being accessible

Tolerance. Tolerant leaders know that intolerance stunts growth, while tolerance powers it.

Independence. Patient leaders are independent and straightforward, and in some cases even defiant

Empathy. Being empathetic is a sign of maturity and confidence

Nurturing Nature. Compassionate leaders know how to lead and nurture, developing others.

Confidence. Patient leaders are cool and self-assured—without being cocky and conceited.

Endurance. Thriving takes time, tenacity and endurance


On Twitter (@Epic_Women)  A word of encouragement after failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.

So how do you see urgency and patience as coexisting elements of your coaching and leadership? For me, I am thinking that urgency is found in my continuous description of a vision of what can be, along with words and actions showing my belief in our abilities to achieve it. My patience needs to be present in continuous effort. Patience allows the emergence of a new plan when the one we have implemented is not creating the desired outcome. Patience encourages the learning and developing of myself and others.

Debra Slover provides a reminder that patience is about mindfulness.  “You never hear the advice to “do patient,” for patience is a way of being and not something that you do. To “be patient” is the mark of a successful leader in all of life.”

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One Response to “ Patience ”

  1. Sandra van Rooyen Says:

    Excellent piece of advice, also while coaching and waiting for change.

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