Effective CEOs Use Time Better

I spent 20 days recently with a CEO friend on a group trip with other very smart common friends.  After observing her management of the group and reflecting on my own pretty effective use of time, I concluded that effective CEOs, having more energy (a topic I’ve blogged on before), just get a lot more done in their day than the average person.  Here’s how.

The Situation

We were on a 24/7 travel trip with 9 friends, all knowledgeable, successful, powerful individuals  who had strong views, particularly round egalitarianism.  Another person was chief trip organiser.  The CEO was a late joiner to the group.  We were just one informal group of people within a much larger multinational group on the trip.

Decisionmaking within the Group

Decision making was generally shared and individuals felt able to go off and do their own thing.  But the CEO was often first in the group to either make her own decision to go off, or to suggest what we should do, when considering a range of options.  Further, her opinion/decision was taken up more often than not, as it was generally a good solution.  We would look at each other and say, OK, that seems a good idea, and follow her.

Implementing decisions

Once a decision had been made, rather than asking others to take actions, she would generally be the first to take the trivial actions to implement the decision (eg making the booking, arranging the furniture for an activity).  She wasn’t ordering people around.  She was prepared to do all the tedious little things to make an activity happen.  And if she had decided to go off and do something by herself, she was often first to do that.  We generally seemed to be followers – willing followers, especially since we were on holidays, but followers none the less.

Using Time More Effectively

During the 20 days, I found she had read 4 books, recommended some of these to specific others in the group, found time to enquire about anyone in the group who was not feeling well, offered practical solutions to others of activities she had already tried that she thought we might like and more.  Clearly when she was alone, she wasn’t sleeping the time away!  But she also wasn’t just thinking of herself.  She was thinking about what others needed and often a kind word or thought was sufficient.  She clearly cared in an active way, not just in thought.

My Personal Reflections

I regard myself as pretty active and others confirm that view.  I hate to waste time, even on a holiday.  I like active holidays, not passive ones.  But I found that I missed opportunities because I was too slow to take up options she suggested or to take up my own ideas for personal activities.  And I know the group wouldn’t have particularly listened to my proposals for what to do, because my ideas are often so different.

I often kick myself because I could have done something on the spur of the moment, wanted to do it…but didn’t…and the opportunity passed by.  I decided I’d try to be more active in doing those small things that might be a one off, an opportunity missed if not taken advantage of straight away.  That will be hard for me – a thinker, analyser – but I’ve told her that…and now I’m telling you!

Now back to my holiday.  Thanks, boss!

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