A leader values ‘your’​ time

Strange though it may seem but I have come across many leaders who flaunt their busy schedules. Not that it isn’t or wasn’t genuine but many have had to be abrupt in meetings or running from one room to another and getting enormously delayed by the time they come to the last meeting in the day. It leads to many others adjusting their time or to wait for clarity on important decisions. Attention span tends to go thin and patience tends to waver. The demand on time is overwhelming and becomes unsurmountable. The larger effect is that decisions if made are in haste or many a times, not made at all tending to slow the growth of the business division or organisation they lead over time. Why does this happen?

Some time back, I was flown into a city to attend an interview in a large corporate house. The first meeting was with the Chief of HR and I was there bang on time. When I got called in, he gets a call from the Chairman for a meeting and he could not gather the courage to tell him that his time was booked…so, he made me wait for a long time till he finished his meeting. My next meeting was with the Chairman himself and the time kept changing and I was back in my room when an urgent call came in that I should rush back as soon as I can because the Chairman has a narrow window open for a meeting and I should avail of it. Since I had flown in specifically for this purpose, I didn’t mind the ambiguity in the schedules but it left me thinking if they had a culture to value other’s time?

Let me narrate an experience that is different from the one above. As part of my work profile, I meet several business heads and leaders and couple of weeks back I met this gentleman, who heads a large division in a very well known MNC. It was good to see that he had done a bit of homework and outlined what his expectations were. He even mentioned that if we managed to convince him on the solution we are proposing, he will do his bit to drive it internally. At the end of the meeting he said that since it was something that has value it is imperative on him that he finds time to meet us again. He was quick to check the calendar and suggest several dates and time slots (if he wanted to, he could have suggested that we should get back to him in a week’s time…and such things I hear quite often) we could easily match our calendars and we agreed on the next date before we left the room. He realised I was surprised but happy at what he did and he added a sentence that made me smile “if it is important for me and you are the person who can add value I better take you seriously and make time for you”.

Stark difference between the two experiences right? It isn’t that leaders do not understand the value of time. It is always the transition to collaborate and trust others that leads them into the time management trap.

Some who have managed the art of valuing others time as much as their own have some of the following traits,

The inclusive leader: The one who truly believes that his /her work is the summation of what his/ her team produces and it is imperative for him / her to listen and act on their behalf

Grow others to grow yourself: Growth comes when the people are more aware and have been given the relevant training and freedom to take decisions. When they grow the leader grows too as the focus can be on other opportunities to challenge the team.

Embrace the risk of failure: The leader does not feel scared to delegate and allows the team to take decisions at the risk of failing. It makes the team more responsible and value the trust the leader has in them.

The above (just a short list; there could be several points) just helps the leader free up much of the time for more productive activities thus making room for just the right meetings or interactions.

About Suresh Ramakrishnan

Suresh has two decades of experience in structuring / creating new business and products / solutions in the media and content space. Among his various passions – writing, singing, reading, analyzing music and directing short plays occupy prime spots. He is a fitness freak to the core and a complete family man; prefers to spend his weekends in their company. He has an engineering degree from IIT – Kharagpur and a PGDM from IIM – Ahmedabad.

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