How do Successful CEOs Spend Their Days?
We talk all the time about how our clients can be more effective in their jobs, and the only way to be more effective as the leader of a small business is to simplify. Instead of taking on more and more, and working harder and harder, the only way to be really effective in your business is to simplify and cut back.
There was a Harvard Business Review study that researched 1,000 CEOs and tried to come up with some conclusions about what the most successful CEOs do that less successful CEOs don’t do. They divided the CEOs into two categories, managers and leaders. Which do you think was determined to be the most successful? We’re going to come back to that.
How did the CEOs spend their days? Firstly, 25% of their time was spent alone. That included doing correspondence and returning emails and phone calls and things like that. 10% of their time they spent on personal stuff. We try to be as effective as possible at work, but if your investment guy calls, or your banker calls, or you’ve got to go bail your kids out of jail or whatever, personal stuff does intrude into our business lives from time to time. 8% of their time was spent on travel, which I thought was shockingly low, to be honest. 56% of their time was spent with other people. One third of that 56% was spent one-on-one with just one other executive, and two thirds of that time they were in meetings with more than one person. The meetings with more than one person were always planned. They weren’t just spontaneous, let’s just go in the conference room and powwow. These were planned meetings with agendas and specific desired outcomes and things like that. They spent about a fifth of their time on marketing, about a third of their time on production, about a fifth of their time on finance, and about a tenth of their time with clients.
They divided the two cohorts into managers and leaders. Which do you think was determined to be the most successful? Well, it was the leaders. What they determined is that leaders manage people, and managers manage tasks. That’s a hard concept for many business users to grasp. For many, any task that’s out there, no matter how small, they roll up their sleeves and they jump into it. But people need to learn that it’s more important to focus on other people in the organization in order to grow and go farther. They need to stop managing tasks, projects, equipment, and processes. They have to start focusing on getting the right team in place, and leading people. That allows their success to catapult into a totally different realm. After all, leaders are more successful, and have better balanced lives than managers.