Four Tips from CEOs to Master Time ManagementWe've all felt like we could use another hour or two in the work day. According to an eVoice survey of small business owners, time is viewed as the most valuable asset, considered more important than tangible resources such as computers or cell phones.

As a business leader it’s interesting to see what other CEOs do to manage their time.

The Wall Street Journal has been doing a video series called Lessons in Leadership to gain insights, management tips, and more from CEOs at large companies.

Four Tips from CEOs to Master Time Management

Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, says people often get caught up in the day-to-day flow. Weiner adds, “If challenges keep coming up there is a natural tendency to solve one problem after another.”

To manage his time, he carves out time to think, as opposed to reacting constantly. During his thinking time, he thinks strategically, proactively, and long-term. He tries to strike a balance between what is urgent versus what is important.

Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, creates spreadsheets to budget time for the year. He allocates time for meetings, travel, and innovation. He even schedules his free time and his vacations. He says he wants to make sure he feels comfortable he has enough free time.

Kevin Roberts, former CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, says his secret to work-life harmony is to never back down or compromise. He also says not to do the stuff you don’t like, preferring instead to delegate.

Kenneth Chenault, CEO of AmEx, says he allots time for developing talent, managing business priorities, and meeting customers. He says business leaders need to spend a good amount of their time with customers because it keeps you externally focused. He sets a framework of how to manage his business, short-term, moderate-term and long-term issues.

You also need to set the pace of your organization and team; set the framework as Chenault would say.

Jay Steinfeld, founder and owner of, says as a business owner, you are called to be your organization’s timekeeper, to look at the bigger picture, and to set the pace for your team.

He wrote an article for Inc., offering a few tips on how to tell when you should speed things up or slow them down.

When to take it Slow:

  1. Strategic planning
  2. With criticism
  3. Making judgments before having all of the information
  4. Moving something to the top of your list
  5. When hiring
  6. With training

When to Speed it up:

  1. Dismissing non-performers and detractors
  2. Cutting projects when they’re not on the roadmap
  3. Offering specific feedback
  4. Correcting your course
  5. Admitting your own mistakes
  6. Promoting from within
  7. Trying and taking risks

As a business owner, you may be interrupted frequently and pulled in multiple directions. You can’t eliminate them, but you can decide on how much time you will spend on them. Everyone will find their own timing, but if you feel pressed for time, these tips might help you to stay on track.

What tips would you add? Do you use any tools to manage your time?

image credit: RLHyde 

Building a LegacyLegacy might be an important reason why you chose to be a leader.

An interesting article in Harvard Business Review by RHR International CEO, Thomas Saporito, challenges the notion of our ability to create a legacy given the changes in the way we now do business.

Mr. Saporito claims we no longer have the time to build long-term success because of the competitive marketplace and the higher rate of turnover in the CEO position.

Today, CEOs are more dispensable whereas in the previous century, they were given the ability to lead through economic ups and downs.

Speed is everything now, and shareholders are less forgiving. In fact, according to a study conducted by The Conference Board, the average CEO tenure has declined from 10 years in 2000 to under 8.5 years in 2011. This may be the choice of the CEO or of the boards; regardless, the shortened tenure makes it more difficult to create a legacy.

This shift affects the marketplace in three ways:

Renovators Replace Builders

Now, CEOs are known for their ability to build, or fix; not both. Before, CEOs saw the corporation through its various life cycles. Today, CEOs are replaced once the builder has done his or her job, with someone who can grow it further, to someone who can turn the company around when it stops growing.

Companies Are Hiring External Talent

According to the same study, 19.2 percent of S&P Fortune 500 CEOs were outside hires rather than promoted from within. Pressure to provide a return to shareholders forces companies to make quick decisions in order to generate a faster turnaround when projections aren’t being met. This turnover from outside isn’t always a cultural fit and stands to hurt more than it helps, furthering the turnover rate.

Relationships Are Changing at the Senior Management Level

Because of shortened tenure and increased pressure to deliver results quickly, relationships at the executive level don’t have the opportunity to bond; and tend to be more transactional.

Leaders are faced with a new set of challenges and pressures. We can all be certain of constant change. But I’d like to hear from you.

Do you see these challenges within your organisation?

Leadership Lessons from Tim CookTim Cook stepped into the most challenging role in tech history, following in the footsteps of Steve Jobs as Apple CEO. In his first 16 months on the job, Apple has released next generation iPhones and iPads. Apple has also seen its stock price rise 43 percent.

Cook has changed Apple with his calm and steady influence. He’s showed a human side of the company with how he handled Jobs’s memorial service and putting out the company’s first ever public report detailing the environmental and labor conditions at its contractors’ facilities.


Eric Markowitz, contributor to Inc. said Cook’s interview with BusinessWeek offered a rare glimpse into his life as CEO of Apple.

He provides five leadership lessons you can learn from the CEO of the world’s most valuable company.

Diverse Background

Having a diverse team brings different experiences to the table. “Companies that can harness the most amount of creative experiences will be more innovative in their approach to business,” says Markowitz.

He goes on to say Cook recognizes this fact and has made diversity a cornerstone of his management philosophy.

Admit When You’re Wrong and Apologize

Every leader has these moments. Some things won’t work out despite your best intentions, plans, and efforts.

Cook overestimated the readiness of the Apple Maps app, but he admitted the problem and apologized. It’s more important to own a problem with humility than to attempt to prove your competence.

Be Transparent

Apple has had much criticism about the standards of their global employees, particularly through their manufacturing partner Foxconn.

Cook invited the world to see how Apple operations worked and by doing this he has created goodwill around the company. He has shown they don’t hide anything and in turn have set industry standards for other manufacturers.

Build Relationships with Customers

Take the time to read customer emails or, if you have a retail shop, talk to customers face-to-face.

Cook makes the time to do this and he says to not allow yourself to become insular. It was one of the most important things he’s learned as a CEO.

Focus On What You Do Best

Apple doesn’t have many products, even as large as it is. Cook says, “If you really look at it, we have four iPods. We have two main iPhones. We have two iPads, and we have a few Macs. That’s it.”

Apple knows they can only make a few products great and that is where their attention and focus goes.

When you inherit a leadership position from a visionary such as Steve Jobs isn’t an easy thing to do gracefully. Cook has risen to the challenge and is forging his own path for Apple. Whether you love the company or hate it, you have to admit Cook has imprinted his own leadership style and we can all learn a thing or two from him.

What leadership lessons have you learned from Tim Cook?

Image: aditza121 via Flickr, CC 2.0

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