The Patiently Intense Leader

Dec 14, 2022

By Brian Formato

Taking a close look at executives across various industries, geographies, and company sizes provides insights into the commonalities and differences in style and approach that work best in different settings. The best leaders know their own strengths—and their own weaknesses. Their self-awareness isn’t the only significant determinant of leadership success, though. The ability to be “patiently intense” is another correlative success factor. Patience and intensity might seem like opposites, but the two competencies actually create balance that leads to leadership success. offers these definitions:

  • patiently: “in a patient manner : with calmness or without complaint or hurry in spite of delays, difficulties, tedium, etc.”1
  • intense: “marked by or expressive of great zeal, energy, determination, or concentration”2

Both terms focus on staying the course and persevering despite opposition or adversity. They actually do go hand in hand. After all, in order to succeed a leader must have the grit and determination to fend off naysayers, deal with adversity, and power through obstacles. Intensity in the form of sustained effort is required to launch a company or to scale a new solution.

Being intense is not enough, though. Leaders must be able to sustain that intensity over the long haul and exhibit stamina. Many intense leaders have failed, especially when trying to drive change in larger, more established organizations. This is where patience comes in: effective leaders must leverage patience to calmly and deliberately address opposition and, often, to slow the pace of decision making.

When introducing a disruptive solution to the market, the desire to go fast can sometimes derail ambition. Understanding the importance of being deliberate, calculating, and patient is a critical skill. Being patient doesn’t mean going slowly. It means going at the appropriate pace and recognizing how to alter that pace as needed to bring the team, investors, customers, and other constituents along.

Leaders set the tone for their organizations. Those who are able to balance patience with intensity will be likely to guide their companies to long-term success.

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