Debate: Is patience and understanding or single-minded determination better for leadership?


Round 1

Side 1: There are so many qualities that a good leader needs that it can be hard to say what is the best quality to have. However, the reason we pick leaders is so that someone can give us direction. If a leader doesn’t have the determination necessary to complete the tasks or give commands, the entire group will end up wandering through the situation aimlessly. If they still get the task done, it would be because of pure coincidence or others stepping up in unofficial leadership, determined to get the job done. A good leader knows that they are the one forging the way, but that they are not doing it alone. If their goal includes the success and happiness of the whole team, then their determination to achieve it will mean that they won’t leave their team in the dust as they aim for success. Determination is necessary for success, and a good leader will want their team to succeed.

Side 2: I should start by saying obviously a little of both characteristics are needed in a good leader. That said, a patient leader can keep a team together as well as plan better for the future. Let’s say you want to start a business and you’re now the leader of your employees. Let’s say you are absolutely passionate about window repair, and you just rush ahead to get as many clients and repair as many windows as you can, but you forget to file your business taxes and get shut down. If you had been a more patient and forward-thinking leader you’d have remembered that a business requires lots of paperwork and bookkeeping; now you and your employees are out of a job. I think patience does not have to equal a lack of passion, it’s just taking the time to decide what roles need to be filled for the best outcome. Sometimes looking before you leap is just as important as leaping.

Round 2

Side 1: A leader must be able to keep their team spirits high and stress low. A determined leader may lead by example, but they can easily cause undue stress and anxiety in their team that will ultimately hurt whatever efforts they have. I recently listened to a documentary about Alexander the Great. No doubt he led by determination first. This single-minded determination indeed meant he’s remembered to this day. It also meant he died at age 32 and committed untold acts of cruelty to those both in his ranks and in the lands he conquered. I wonder how history would have changed if he had been more patient. He may have just gotten a knife in the ribs, but maybe the cultural boundaries we see today would be totally different. To get back on topic, I think determination can be an attractive quality in a leader, but determination alone is not stable. Without a patient mind to plan out your next move or keep your team happy, you’re bound to collapse.

Side 2: Granted, patience and understanding are also important traits for a leader to have. Without those, it would be too easy for the workplace (or sport or project) to become toxic, either because people can’t get help and guidance from their leader for interpersonal disputes or the leader themselves becomes a problem. However, too much patience and understanding without assertiveness means that the leader may only be a leader in name, simply because their patience has become passiveness and their understanding has made them uncertain due to too many conflicting ideas and opinions. This is why determination is incredibly important as a leader. Yes, they do need to be careful not to get carried away, but if they set their determination on being the best leader they can be, then the empathy and the goal-oriented focus can co-exist. The thing here is not to simply be determined, but to be determined for your team.