By Ian Sampson
Leaders get to their exalted position by learning to skillfully manage time. After all, time is all we have. So the leader’s time is valuable and needs to be managed. This is usually done by a PA who is often a person who has to be at the leader’s beck and call 24/7, helping them be organized so they don’t have to be available to the rest of the world 24/7. (This is one of life’s little ironies!).
Therefore, misleaders make their time number one priority and have fun constantly changing prearranged meetings, events and occasions. They cancel at short notice. They double or triple book to create confusion and consternation for those who expected the leader but they don’t even show up. They reschedule two, three or ideally four times so others really get how important the leader is and cause the people concerned complete loss of productivity. Ideally misleaders do this latter one where it also involves travel, accommodation and meeting venues.
Of course things come up but the real power in this Rule is that the misleader gets to show others yet again that they are the boss.
I shudder to watch the flow on effect of this type of leadership behaviour on the middle managers. Picture the young up and coming manager who sees this happening above them in the organisation. She then spends a huge proportion of her time scheduling and rescheduling meetings, not making or meeting commitments, not cleaning up after making capricious changes and wondering why people get nervous around them. A good sign of this is when co-workers start mentioning things about them like “she doesn’t seem to have much integrity”, and “I don’t know where I stand with her because everything keeps moving for no great reason”
I recall working with Bill, a manager who constantly changed meeting times and put unrealistic demands on his staff. He would cancel a weekly staff meeting to play golf with a supplier. He would arrive late for work at least twice a week. He would be given a project from his superior and leave it in his in-tray for a week then give a subordinate 24 hours to complete, saying that the CEO requires a report by tomorrow. This approach does nothing for developing a team with common purpose and sends all the wrong messages. Bill was left with a disillusioned and de-motivated department.
About Ian: Ian Sampson (B.Comm., LLB., FAICD, FAIM) is a Cause & Effective Associate. He is a Strategic Advisor to Boards, an Executive Coach and a Facilitator of our Powerful Leadership in Action Program. He can be contacted here.