One thing I have often questioned is how they became available for these meetings. With demanding jobs and time-pressed schedules, how were these people able to arrange to get involved in their outside interests? Is there a mastery to this?
For a time, I pondered doing a series of interviews on this question. Perhaps many others would like to know how the work day really works at the top of an organization. I no longer need to pursue this. It’s been done.
A number of professors from Harvard Business School, the London School of Economics, Columbia University, and the University of Oxford have delivered an insightful study for us on CEOs and time usage. It involved more than 1200 participants in six countries. The research results were published in the Harvard Business Review. (Link below)
One preliminary and important finding was that leaders who stay more “high-level” in focus are more effective than managerial CEOs. This was determined using a sophisticated algorithm that included “every activity a CEO undertakes in a week, as well as whether it was planned ahead of time and who else was involved.” The study offers a well defined explanation of “manager types” and “leader types.”
I’m sure many at the employee level wonder, “What does this CEO person do all day?” Might you be curious? Here’s a summary: “On average, about one-quarter of CEOs’ days are spent alone, including sending emails. Another 10% is spent on personal matters, and 8% is spent traveling. The remainder (56%) is spent with at least one other person, which mostly involves meetings, most of which are planned ahead of time. About one-third of the time CEOs spend with others is one-on-one; two-thirds is with more than one other person. (This data includes a CEO’s entire workday, not just time in the office.)”
Now comes a really important question. Which type of CEO is more effective for a company? A leader…or manager? All factors considered, the CEO whose style was more leader than manager ran more a productive and more profitable company.
Next. Is it the company itself or the leader who drives the success? Research of the before and after performance of appointing a new CEO showed higher productivity with a leader put in place. It took three years for this to be measured.
One more qualifier should be noted. Manager type CEOs tended to run smaller and simpler organizations. Plenty of them were successful at their companies. Leaders were found more often in larger firms where different and more complex skills were needed.
Elena Botelhos is founder of the leadership research firm CEO Genome Project. She coauthored The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders. Here is her observation:
“Our research shows that the best CEOs are highly decisive in how they allocate their time—focusing on priorities that truly move the needle on the success of their business. Often, when CEOs conduct calendar reviews and look at how their time is actually spent, they’re surprised to find that top priorities are regularly trumped by urgent fires.”
I’ve never forgotten the advice explaining that most people tend to work on what they enjoy doing, rather than what is most needed. The need for priority thinking is a constant. It’s a lesson for all of us.
To my knowledge, Jesus of Nazareth carried no appointment book. Nor was He ever in a rush. He knew His mission and stayed on task. He prioritized His team. He prayed for them. He challenged them. He loved them. And the impact of Jesus' work on earth remains today. A true leader.
May God give you wisdom to lead, serve, and manage time. . . like the Master.
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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to www.1160hope.com for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.
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