Be a time Diva
OG supermodel Linda Evangelista famously once said “I don’t get out of bed for less than $ 10,000“. She said this many years ago, when $10K was worth a lot more than it is today.
At the risk of turning you into a high maintenance, self-absorbed super model, I would like to encourage a similar mindset to Linda’s regarding the value of your time.
The CEO role is the most important role in the company. By definition, a CEO, especially a founder CEO, has more context and knowledge than anyone else in the company. It can be tempting therefore, that when you want something done ‘right’, you do it yourself.
This can lead to a CEO deep-diving into specific areas of the business. Perhaps you want to revisit pricing or positioning. Perhaps you are concerned about how your product compares vs the competition. Whatever it is, you can’t DO the analysis or deep work yourself.
The thing that the CEO can uniquely bring is insight and decision-making. In fact, ultimately, one of the key skills of a CEO is making great, timely decisions, based on limited or incomplete information.
In any project or decision based on data, separate the gathering of the data and analyzing of data from the actual decision making.
Adopt the Linda rule
The time spent in gathering and analysis is important, but not valuable in and of itself. I would argue that the time does meet the Linda rule. That value from that time does not meet your minimum threshold for being personally involved.
You need to reserve your time for tasks that deliver high value. In this case it would be reviewing the results of an analysis or deep dive and drawing conclusions / making decisions based on them.
It doesn’t matter what you LIKE to do…
I know what you’re thinking: “But wait, I like to go deep into the weeds sometimes”. I get it. Especially if you come from a technical discipline. If you wrote the original code for your program it is fun to go back underneath the hood sometimes.
BUT… that doesn’t meet the minimum value creation threshold for your time. So, you need to resist that temptation.
Finally, many CEOs still go deeper than they should not just because they like it, but because they believe it will result in the best work and therefore best conclusions. As I wrote above, I get that no one has your context or knowledge. But you are not helping grow the capacity and talent beneath you by doing the work that should be done at that level for them.
If you truly don’t believe you will get a good analysis or good data, then you have the wrong systems, people or both. Fix that rather than do the work yourself.
Questions to consider
Exercise: Go back through last week’s or last month’s calendar: How many hours did I spend on activities that really were below my level?
If I reflect on those activities, what caused me to spend time there? Was it because I just wanted to? Or was it because there is a gap in competency at that level?
If it was a competency gap, what am I going to do about it?
Looking at my calendar, what recurring meetings do I have that don’t meet the threshold in terms of value created per hour. Do I blow these meetings up? Just not attend?
What is my time worth*? With that minimum threshold in mind, what changes do I need to make to how I work and schedule myself?
How do I communicate these changes with my leadership team and other direct stakeholders so that they know what to expect from me?
* Another post on this topic is coming soon…
Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash