We know that for good health people are supposed to spend 1/3 of their lives sleeping. Where do you think executives should spend 1/3 of their time to ensure business health?
Although the Wall Street Journal may not have the answer, it has identified what CEOs do in a week. A sample of 65 executives shows they spend:
- 20 hours misc. (travel, exercise, personal appointments, etc.)
- 18 hours meeting
- 6 hours working by themselves
- 5 hours at business lunches/dinners
- 2 hours at public events
- 2 hours on conference calls
- 2 hours on phone calls
Do those activities seem out of balance? It did to them. The CEOs who participated in the study recognized that their priorities did not correlate to the way they allocated their time. (I’m also wondering how personal appointments factor in as work—but that’s another matter.)
If you’re having trouble making sure your priorities receive the attention they deserve, Robert Steven Kaplan, a professor at Harvard Business School, makes the following a recommendation: Substitute the word ‘money’ for ‘time.’ He says framing the time/value equation in this manner enables corporate leaders to more easily say ‘no’ when it’s appropriate.
The research fell short because the study did not assess how organizational performance relates to CEO activities. It seems as if that should have been the point.
A separate study of nearly 100 Italian CEOs revealed the way executives spent their time “strongly correlated with a firm’s profitability and productivity, measured as revenue per employee.” It turns out the biggest contributing factor for high performance is internal meetings. Meeting with people outside of the company had little impact on outcomes. Perhaps that’s because your primary role as CEO is one of leadership.