Leadership Mirage: Do You See Patience or Inaction?

Leadership Mirage: Do You See Patience, Inaction, or No Accountability?

Being ultimately responsible for a successful outcome, leaders often focus on everyone’s actions to achieve it. Yet team members work at different paces with different behaviors.

This presents the leadership mirage challenge! What are you seeing and is it a threat to success? Are team members being patient and persistent, or inactive and unaccountable?

Leadership Mirage: Image is Runners in setting sun.

Leadership Mirage: Patience Is Not Inaction. Image from Istock.com.

Image licensed from Istock.com

Leadership Mirage: Clarifying to Lead Well

The picture of patience and persistence is quite different from inactive and unaccountable. Your perspective, professional goals, concerns, and courage — as a leader — impact what you see and how you interpret it. Let’s clarify the picture to lead well.


Being realistic about time needed given current conditions, resources, knowledge, and talents.

  • For example, when new hires start work, it takes time for them to learn the business. Patience is seeing this reality. Prevent the leadership mirage. Either accept this reality or do something to change the current reality. Give them training, mentors, and assistance to speed the process. As leaders, you thus prevent patience from blurring into inaction.

  • When teams are resisting change, does your patience blur into inaction? I witnessed a very analytic team member blind a leader and temporarily stop a change initiative through endless analytic questions. The team member created a leadership mirage. He painted the image that all these issues had to be resolved before taking action on the change. The leader told me he was trying to be patient with the teams because change is difficult. Yet he was very concerned about not moving ahead.

    As the consultant on the project, I said to the team member, “I think you pose all these questions as absolutes to stop the change.” He replied, “Yes.” The mirage disappeared. The leader could see the ulterior motive and the distortion. He could then change the current reality from distorted to active discussion.

Clarify the picture to prevent patience from turning into inaction!


Doing nothing to change conditions, move forward, and reach success in the necessary time frame.

  • For example, a leader asked a manager to arrange everything for a distributed online meeting. She asked him to initiate the tele-conference 15 minutes before start time. The slow paced manager did a half-baked job organizing it and launched the tele-conference one minute after the start time. His response to the leader’s displeasure was, “I’m a patient person.” He was creating a leadership mirage.

    It didn’t blind this leader. After speaking with the manager and seeing there had been no obstacles to starting on time, she said to him, “You actions were not about patience. You were simply slow to act and your delay impacted the global team.”

  • Patience is not withholding information when others need it to be successful. Patience is not remaining completely silent when others need your input. Patience is not making others wait because you prefer to work at a slower pace. These are all examples of inaction that can delay success. Leaders, clarify these differences with teams. It helps all to avoid being blinded by these mirages. They can then be accountable for success.

Remove every leadership mirage so that all can be accountable for success!

Patience is being flexible on how you all reach success. It is tolerant of differences that still keep progress moving. It includes and empowers all to be accountable.

Inaction is delay from personal preference. It is denial of issues instead of discussing to clarify. Inaction hides from difficult moments rather than courageously facing them. It runs from accountability.

Leadership mirages blind leaders when …

  1. … they confuse being likeable with constantly wanting to be liked. Team members play on these leaders’ for more patience. It turns into inaction. Solutions: See the truth to rally everyone to accountability.

  2. … they are hard drivers addicted to feverish levels of activity and see anything less than feverish as inaction. Solution: Clarify what progress is being made to moderate your obsession about activity.

  3. … they are not committed to the vision, purpose, or change initiative. Ambivalence gives mirages more power over perspective. Solution: Be aware of when you are not committed. Self-awareness clarifies the view. When you see the reality, the mirage disappears.

To remove the leadership mirage, be self-aware, clarify the view, and communicate.

Then turn inaction into success by changing something that empowers success.

What successes have you had through clear vision and self-awareness?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Leaders, Breed Accountability Not Blame
Leaders, How Long Do You Coach a Bad Attitude?

©2014 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email info@katenasser.com for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.



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7 Responses to “Leadership Mirage: Do You See Patience or Inaction?”

  1. Kate,

    This post is very effective at pointing out when leaders are out of alignment.

    Clarity and Self-awareness are two of my favorite qualities.

    Using an interrogative approach, I have been able to shift into desired results by being “Willing” to ask questions in the moment. Not stopping with one or two if we are not down to the core issue yet.

    It is interesting how sometimes you can ask a simple questions and BOOM, problem solved. More often than not, it takes a couple of questions to get past the “politeness or opaqueness” that accompanies the situation.

    Thanks for showing the difference.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thank you Michele. Clarifying can take many forms from questions to observing to examples. When the mirage becomes reality — anything is possible!


  2. Alli Polin says:

    Great points, Kate! I think what really stands out to me is the need to leaders to clarify and be explicit on expectations. When I’ve joined new organizations, my priority is to get to know the team, issues and challenges. The CEO that hired me wanted aggressive results on a compressed timeframe. I was working towards that goals but from the outside looking in, my path was different than the path she assumed I’d take. She needed patience and TRUST to know that sometimes the biggest leaps can’t be seen as a direct consequence of the biggest actions.

    Thanks, Kate!

    ~ Alli

  3. Jon Mertz says:


    Great way to pair patience and inaction. These two should not be confused. One can give people room to grow, lead, and create. The other can give people an excuse to leave issues un-addressed, unsolved. Both play a role and we need to understand the situation and environment and lead accordingly. Well highlighted and good points made!



    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thanks Jon. Love your summary … patience gives people room to grow and inaction gives them an excuse to leave issues unaddressed! Nicely said.


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