It won’t surprise you that CEOs spend a lot of time in meetings. They devote about one-third of their time in meetings with direct reports, clients and others.
In one sample group of 65 CEOs, executives spent 18 hours of a 55-hour workweek in meetings, plus three hours in phone calls and five hours in business meals.
For this lot, working in solitary mode averaged just six hours weekly. CEOs say they wish they had more solo thinking time to ponder strategy.
Lars Dalgaard, CEO of SuccessFactors Inc., is among the leaders who meet for roughly one-third of his week, but he also dedicates as much as 25% of his time to thinking.
“While you are sitting in a meeting, your competition is getting stuff done,” he says. Among his tactics for finding thinking time: letting ideas crystallize while driving on the highway, making time on flights, or blocking off his calendar and retreating to a room where he can have solo time.
NV “Tiger” Tyagarajan, president and CEO of Genpact Ltd., wishes for more time to “sit back and think” or simply kick around ideas “without a fixed meeting or a fixed agenda.”
The important question is, do all those meetings with direct reports and clients allow a CEO to focus on his top priorities? Often, when execs compare their top priorities to the way they spend their time, “they are usually surprised about the mismatch,” says Robert Steven Kaplan, a Harvard Business School professor.
When deciding how to spend your time, Kaplan recommends that you swap out the word “money” for “time.”
“With money ... you’d be more careful and judicious about it. If someone asked you for some, you’d be more likely to say no,” he says.
— Adapted from “Where’s the Boss? Trapped in a Meeting,” Rachel Emma Silverman, The Wall Street Journal.