I watched the movie Captain Phillips recently. It chronicles the true story of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking, an incident during which merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips was taken hostage by pirates in the Indian Ocean led by Abduwali Muse.
In it the armed forces create a strategy to rescue the captain, and the navy commander tells the ship they must have tactical patience to be successful in the mission.
That phrase really stuck with me. Tactical patience sounds bigger than regular patience doesn’t it? I love this phrase because i think it has a great influence on positive outcomes a team or business want to make. When tactical patience is present, there is proof. Consider these three examples that demonstrate this important business skill:
#1 It is an intentional skill.
In today’s fast-paced marketplace, it is easy to caught in the trap of instant results and immediacy. For many aspects of improved performance, a change in behavior is required that takes time to slowly improve. And honestly, it can be frustrating to the leader. What may seem like a simple change takes much longer than you may desire. Having patience in the process must be intentional.
#2 It is more than a “wait and see” mindset.
Tactical patience focuses on specific intended outcomes not ambiguous results. When clear expectations have been set, the team member knows specifically what areas of her performance needs improvement not “just get better”. So the leader isn’t sitting back and waiting for some type of improvement to happen eventually, he sets milestones along the way that represent incremental improvements in the employee’s performance. And being patient in the journey is the leader’s role.
#3 It includes the good, bad and ugly of a long process.
Performance improvement is a journey. Helping your employee become more open to change or take initiative with tasks takes time. Many times your employee has exhibited the lacking behavior for many years and in fact, you may have been the first leader to make them aware of the need for a change. The road to improvement will likely include some great victories but will also include setbacks along the way. A leader who exhibits tactical patience recognizes this road and is committed to the process as long as the employee is focused as well.
The Navy had a very specific mission to accomplish in rescuing Captain Phillips. They were deliberate, focused and waited for the right opportunity to strike. In many ways, the same can be said of your leadership role. So, what mission do you need to embark on with your team? Here’s to a well-executed mission. You will set the pace for your team’s improvement.
It’s possible and it starts with you.