With so many daily tasks, constraints and unexpected disturbances at work, CEOs could be the least likely to achieve anything great at all. Those who succeed do a few things right. I chose 6 of them, which I hope, will help you make an impact.


#1 – Protect your time for what matters most.

Once outstanding CEOs have chosen what they want to accomplish above all else, they allocate and protect sufficient time to work on it along the whole year. After all, as the saying goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail”.

Of course, unforeseeable meetings, last-minute trips and urgent tasks will alter such planning, but then one just reschedules the times protected for important tasks and ends up still investing the amount of time ‘budgeted’ for them.

Do you also allocate recurrent time-slots for your most important goals on a yearly basis? For example: 3 hours for “long term and strategic planning” every first Thursday of the month? Do you sufficiently protect yourself from interruptions, work from home or in a closed meeting-room when you deal with topics requiring absolute concentration?


#2 – Decide what you will NOT do.

Another common feature of successful CEOs is their decisiveness about… what they will NOT do… in full awareness of the negative impact to the business, and acceptance that they won’t please everyone. But it saves time for assignments adding superior value to the company.

Could you also stop doing things which do not offer a good enough return on the time invested?


#3 – Delegate even more.

When a new task comes their way, outstanding CEOs will typically think: “How can I avoid to do this myself? How can I split it and delegate some parts of it to colleagues further down the hierarchy?”

Whilst you may not have that many colleagues to delegate to, can you systemically try and have tasks performed at the lowest level in the organization? Then your company shall get better returns on the salaries paid out.


#4 – Coach your people.

Jack Welsh, former CEO of GE, said he spent 80% of his time “coaching his people”… He meant that along each conversation he attempted to lift his people’s capabilities and motivation up.

Obviously, helping your subordinates fly higher helps you fly higher too.

Booking at least one hour a month with your direct reports to help them grow their talent, performance and autonomy is really a ‘must’.


#5 – Neutralize your time-wasters.

Yet another necessary discipline to boost your effectiveness is to neutralize your time-wasters. Emails may be the worst of all. How much time do you spend reading emails? How much of your time are they worth?

People are mindful to make their emails highly valuable reads when they write to a CEO or cc her/him. As CEOs often do, you could inform your colleagues that you may not always have the time to read emails in which you are only cc-ed, and invite them to be brief if they send an email directly to you.

Another healthy discipline for most executives is to consult and reply to emails only 3 times per day. Early morning, before or after lunch, and at the end of the day.


#6 – Protect time for self-renewal.

Last tip, but not the least: spend sufficient time to refresh and re-energize yourself. Time with family and friends, time for sport, meditation, hobbies. Successful CEOs stay sharp and balanced because they do it. As you know, you will also be much more effective and clear-minded afterwards. And if you feel like taking a short nap in the early afternoon, do grant yourself 20 minutes for it! You know you will enjoy far superior effectiveness afterwards. 

When I work with overwhelmed executives on their priorities and time management, we often start by adding to their overloaded agendas those moments for renewal, with an interdiction to skip them! Hence they are coerced to streamline the way they work and kick-out their time-wasters.

There is really no magic in brilliantly accomplishing your legacy this year: as Stephen Covey coined it, “The key is not in spending time, it is in investing it.”


What could you be doing to influence your strengthen your leadership?

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Republished with permission. Originally published on the Greatness Leadership Coaching blog.