Impatience took him to the Top
Denny Strigl, former president and CEO of Verizon Wireless told me the quality that served him best in his career was impatience; the inability to tolerate delay, restlessness.
I never liked waiting for results. At a minimum, I wanted to see immediate solid progress toward obtaining results. It always drove me nuts when people would say if we only had this or that, then we could get things done.
The down side of impatience:
I think at first people feared me or at least were very leery of me. Frankly, I was uncomfortable when I thought people were intimidated because I knew my impatient style was to try to make people better performers than they thought they could be.
Also, on occasion my impatience resulted in decisions which later needed to be modified of even reversed. Key here is to be honest and make any needed changes quickly.
Impatience can’t stand alone. It has to be used in conjunction with other characteristics mentioned in the book, integrity, accountability, etc.
Mix impatience with the wrong characteristics and you get disaster. People figure out you are not working for the common good and rebel; in which case nothing gets done other than back stabbing and innuendo.
I think I learned how best to use it. In other words it was important to me that people understood my impatience was to make the team better. Maybe I did learn how to use it productively as opposed to destructively.
Should others be impatient:
It worked for me because it is who I am. I don’t think it can work for everyone, although I would argue some impatience is a very good thing. If someone is not naturally impatient, they shouldn’t try to be something they are not.
What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of impatience?
Dear Denny and Dan,
I agree the impatience alone is not enough. It has to be accompanied by some positive characteristics. Similarly, impatience with negative characteristics can be disastrous. I also feel that when impatience for outcome hurt, harm or violate something, then it is not good. At the same time, when it harms one mentally more than outcome alone, then also one need to ponder. As long as it does not affect individual performance in other areas, or does not harm others then impatience is right and acceptable otherwise not. To cite examples, people are more impatience for position and power. And this impatience forces one more more outcome than effort. In fact. when one is putting more effort and more impatience for effort than result, then it is so powerful. But, opposite perspective does not seem fair and right. So, I believe one needs to make effort output analysis before being impatience. Values always add beauty to impatience. Without values, impatience is not enough to get you on the top.
Great look at the upside of impatience! I think it all boils down to being impatient for the right reasons. There’s a big difference between acting like a whining two-year-old and pushing people past wimpy excuses.
…and I love the picture!
Good blog post. I think if impatience or urgency comes from a place of wanting to make things happen and move things forward it has a lot of value.
Obviously if it means destroying people along the way, much less desirable.
I enjoyed this post and the questions it raises. In state government, I often see situations where just a whiff of impatience would be the impetus needed to get a sluggish meeting or project off the ground – someone tired of waiting for the sixth signature or the administrative approval. Conversely, I think impatience particularly presents some challenges to workers who are newer to the workforce — in their impatience with traditional org charts and structures, SOMETIMES they miss some learning experiences and exposure to institutional knowledge that could have served them well eventually.
I am with Duncan about it being sense of urgency (props to Kotter), because impatience can have emotional baggage that does not help.
If we don’t have a sense of urgency of the work we do, then perhaps the vision is lacking. Even though the Stones said, ‘time is on my side’, have to question that.
It’s important what you say about impatience having to be mixed with other positive traits, otherwise it’s disaster. I guess that’s why I never considered impatience a good quality, because I most likely saw it mis-used, and the cause of problems in the long term.
Impatience and restlessness are not bad things in and of themselves. It has to be paired with integrity. If we never impart a sense of urgency to a situation, in all likelihood it will never change, and continue into perpetuity. If a system is working well, then that is perfectly okay.
I don’t think, when governed properly, that impatience will necessarily lead us to recklessness or rash decisions. Especially, when we are trying to influence from an inside position, you cannot brow-beat people with this. It is indeed a fine line between pushing people too hard and leaving things unsaid, and eventually undone. And, most importantly we must manage ourselves, understand our true motivations and our expectations.
“Patience is the support of weakness; impatience is the ruin of strength” impatience leads to poor judgment, bad choices, and discouragement. but it is important to know why we become impatient . Some times we are impatient because of some hedonistic greed, but many a times because we know that there is so much to know, and so little time. People are impatient about the end result. there is zero tolerance in them. An Impatient kind of person is not viewed as either a good manager or a good leader.
But at the same time it is also a reality that some amount of impatience is always good specially towards perpetuated wrongs, false commitments,unsympathetic approach , carelessness, and bad governance.
I appreciate your comment. I agree that people become impatient about end result and they want to achieve it by anymeans. Instead, when one is impatient about effort, it definitely yields good outcome. So, impatience for good cause with better effort is always good and harmless.
I have been an impatient and sometimes intimidating person, Again, it’s a trait that I will see if I am able to use in a positive way. I am trying to think what has to go with impatience, so I can remind myself. Here is my attempt:
1. Empathy for the unique people involved. Know whom I am being impatient in front of.
2. Self-Awareness and Reflection to see how I am coming across
3. Shared vision so people see that I am going where they are going
4. Humility to welcome feedback and improve
5. Engagement and Authenticity that shows that I genuinely care.
I’m sure there are more. Anyone?
Being impatient can be good or bad… I have a very driven personality that has helped me amazing through the hardest times in my life. I have always had a hunger for growth and improvement. It has helped me progress in life. They say your strengths can be your weaknesses as well, which is true. By being impatient I sometimes end up emotionally overwhelmed because I want to grow in areas that are a bit slow. For example a year and a half ago I was paralyzed from neck down… I am able to walk and drive now thank God… I have a major hunger and desire to get better no matter what.. The problem however is that the accident damaged my nerve system. Nerves take a long time to heal. It is not break a leg and recover in six weeks, but years. I have been in this process for a year and a half now and I am driven, but I am impatient with the progress. My life progression and growth has slowed down tremendously and I have no controloover which can frustrate me. I have to back up and readjust to the reality sometimes that this is going to take some time. I still try to grow but have only so much energy to focus and grow. In other words the energy I have is focused on getting better. I am still trying to grow personally but my life growth has slowed down because of the accident. All I can do is keep moving forward and keeping the faith. I might be impatient, but I don’t believe I would be walking todayif I wwasn’t nor would I be as far as I am in recovery of the accident. So be impatient has it’s pros and cons.