The CEO, the business mentor, and time management
The cliché logic runs as follows. “I am the CEO. Therefore, I am important. Therefore, I know everything. And thus I am busy all the time and have to be busy all the time.”
This phrase seems to be particularly true in Jerusalem, where I have many clients. And as their business mentor and coach, I constantly strive to fight the false links in their thinking and actions. However, this begs the questions: What is the optimum amount of time that a CEO should be pouring into his / her business and in what manner?
I want to use three anecdotes that I have picked up just recently that together make a very powerful generic point for us all.
First, let me recall an interview featuring both Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Watch it here, as Buffet reveals a half-empty diary. And he makes the point that he can buy almost anything he wants. However, he cannot buy time!
Next and unusually for me, I find myself quoting the actor Ashton Kutcher. No longer just a star of sit-com, he has made several successful investments in the world of high-tech. This is his secret as to why he has time for most things:
When I wake up…I spend the first hour of my work not looking at email, and actually just writing out what it is that I want to accomplish in a given day. And then before I go through my emails, I’ll do all my outgoing, outbound stuff, which is what I want everyone else to do for me. And then I’ll go and get reactive to whatever’s going on.
Finally, I was totally struck by an article in the Harvard Business Review, which surmarised the research of 1,000 successful CEOs from six different countries.
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.)
For me, the takeaway message is that just because you are a CEO does not mean you have to be 120% busy, 130% of the time. Thinking and strategizing are just as paramount. These create leadership and management skills that are to be valued, even more than an ability to be a road runner.