By author Jack Yeost
WASHINGTON, DC (January 11, 12018 – TruthPR.com) — Recent news reports and commentators have criticized President Trump for blocking off a number of hours for “Executive Time” on his calendar. The implication is that blocking this time is not really executive behavior, and certainly not presidential. Some are arguing that his Executive Time is a waste of time.
Is this fair?
In fact, the blocked-off Executive Time may be the most important time of the day for the manager.
The differences between the time-usage of the individual contributor and the manager is a common confusion among journalists, consultants and academia. The staffer, who does the work assigned by his supervisor, gets graded on his efficiency — getting more work done in fewer hours and a lower cost. But the manager, from the first-line supervisor, to CEO, to President of the United States should not get graded on efficiency – but on effectiveness.
Effectiveness is the accomplishment of organizational goals. Here is the, yes, genius, of President Trump. He is steadily and effectively advancing his agenda of increased employment, a higher stock market, a more conservative judiciary, and greater national security.
The amateur observer confuses action with progress. Perhaps the busiest man to occupy the White House was President Jimmy Carter. But no one would claim he was effective.
The new, young manager, or a Jimmy Carter (who personally scheduled the White House tennis courts) is busy-busy-busy. He still focuses on the staffer’s scorecard: taking action and being efficient. But manager’s ‘work’ is getting things done – through other people.
The work of the boss is to plan, organize, lead and control. He can accomplish this managerial work only with the active support of his staff. The successful individual contributor must be efficient; the good manager is effective.
To achieve effectiveness, the most important use of Executive Time is. . . to do “nothing.” To Think. The most common complaint from executives is, “If only I had an hour to think about a problem…” The boss needs discretionary, uncluttered time to think.
General “Red” Newman, a World War II hero, wrote advice to a young office in a book entitled Follow Me III. In a chapter entitled “ ‘Think Time’ is Vital in Command,” he explains:
Stop. Look out the window now and then, and let your mind stand away from problems to see them in perspective, to select those areas to which you will direct your efforts.
… The most important duty…is not just to work skillfully, even selectively, at matters [needed] for resolution or coordination, but to reflect on matters…
The only way that kind of reflection happens for a harried CEO is if she schedules it on her calendar, and fiercely protects that time.
They might even label it, “Executive Time.”
Jack Yoest is an Assistant Professor of Management at The Catholic University of America in The Busch School of Business and Economics. He is the author of The Memo: How the Classified Military Document That Helped the U.S. Win WWII Can Help You Succeed in Business
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