Time management IS leadership.

I responded to a LinkedIn discussion today about how leaders should spend their time, and it really got me thinking about how much time management *is* leadership.  After all, isn’t leadership living out what you believe and care about?  Is there any more direct reflection of what you believe and care about than how you spend your time?

The original question: How should a leader use time effectively?  How can time management be learned?

My reply: I have found that time management* requires practice. As people, we are generally pretty poor at two fundamental elements pertaining to time management: making decisions and estimating how long things will take.

To do better with each, first there is a certain amount of head knowledge required to get people planning and executing more intentionally.

Then there is practice, measurement, and improvement. I always knew that I estimated too little time for things, but it wasn’t until I started using an accountability tool that actually scored how well I did at consistently completing my most important handful of activities that I found out just how poor.

Out of 100 possible points each week, I was scoring around 50. That’s an F-minus!  Yikes… With that score visible by all my peers, I straightened out quickly. I recommitted to scoring 90+ which required MUCH more focus *and* MUCH more realistic estimations.

As a leader, I’d like to think that we have as much or more influence over how our time is used than most within our organization. We MUST demonstrate the ability to focus on the “Covey Quandrant II”-type important/non-urgent stuff (the things that help us grow and be more effective) at least 20-30% of the time and the important/urgent stuff at least 30-50% of the time, if not more. Any time spent on the other side of the ledger (unimportant) is waste.

As leaders we also have the opportunity and responsibility to MODEL WHAT IS IMPORTANT.  It’s not all sales, sales, sales. It is vital to our performance that we are building relationships, taking care of ourselves, our families, our faith…and even getting OUT of the office on time. No one likes to leave when their boss is always staying late.


[*To be clear, none of us manages time, it goes on at the same pace regardless of what we do, but for the sake of using the industry buzz word in place of self-management or self leadership, let’s just roll with it for this discussion.   Thanks!]