Do you have TIME for Efficient Leadership-Time? 

How often do you see your leader in person – today? Once a day, once a week, once a month – or even less?

Tons of leadership literacy shows all kinds of leadership KPI´s and analytically explain every leadership process in detail. But something as succinct as – TIME – is attempted to be illuminated as quantitative measurement, rarely from a qualitative perspective.

At first – let´s start with understanding today´s quantitative Working Hours of Leaders:

  • Leaders supposed to work as long, as it needs to get their job done. No cap, all in – sounds really simple.
  • Quantitate measures & surveys of current leader´s working time reach easily 60-80 hours / week, or more. Forget weekends, holidays, or illness – just make them part of the working week. Aha – who wants to be a leader these days?
  • In „high-performance“ company cultures the maximized number of leader´s total working hours stand often for high commitment & exemplary leadership skills. The more working hours – the better the leader and the higher performance company culture. Pfff.
  • The middle-management is often flooded with visionary company strategies & core activities from the company owners or top leadership-team, while handling the (extremely increased) workload and expectations from their team leaders or employees at the same time. Think about covid-regulations, change to-do´s, new processes, unpredictable & not plannable actions due to uncertainty, illness, and higher fluctuation – especially in the last 2-3 leadership years.  
  • E.g. Generation Z-leaders (born in 1995-2010) are looking for a proper work-life balance today – and how to transfer all their leadership wishes into clear expectations and exemplifying as new role-models for agile/digital native leaders. Work effectively from home or home-office or elsewhere – „flexible freedom“. Bottom-line expectation: 40-50 hours max. All other leadership styles appear as old-school or outdated – interesting learning.

So far so good. Means – there are massively different expectations on appropriate working hours for leaders existing, especially across differing age & leadership generations. ALL of these individual interpretations of quantitative leadership time are lived in parallel in many corporate cultures – from small/medium companies to large enterprises. 

Second – let´s aptly describe quantitative Leadership Time:

  • 50-60 % of leader´s time is dedicated to operative management & coordination of daily project and reporting tasks, means avg. 20-25 hours/week > shrinking (!)
  • 20-25 % of leader´s time go into technical tasks and handling factual tasks of themselves, approx. 10-12 hours/week > trend up
  • 10-15 % is dedicated to strategy development and break-down activities > continuing
  • 10-15 % go into added-value leadership tasks, where direct managers, team or employees are involved, means 5-8 hours/week – really?
  • 5-10 % for own training, spare-time, if there is any time left.

It got very clear, that almost all scientific studies of 2023 leadership-habits show similar frightening evolutions:

  • a massive increase of general leadership time – easily 20-60 % up evolving sometimes into a toxic company culture
  • significant bigger demand for added-value leadership-time of your direct managers & employees
  • „all-time high“ illness statistic in Germany after 1950: from 5.5% illness-rate (2022) to almost 6 % (2023) > means productivity down.

Well – what could leaders do today to improve their qualitative leadership-time and effectivize their leadership traits:

  1. Take your time for key essentials „at first“: observe, collect data, calm down, innovate necessities only, align team, agree on goals, delegate, prepare for the unknown, reduce uncertainty, feedback & motivate; stabilize & adapt organization > all classics to inspire your team and gain higher employee engagement & team-commitment 
  2. Think about your high-performers & critical staff „first“ and retain top & essential talents by additional responsibilities, innovation processes or new tasks – than support, motivate and foster your team & workforce > empower your capable workforce carefully 
  3. Keep in mind: you are carefully watched as Leader and role-model every day. Show initiative, tackle urgent & conflicting things and find as leader workable solutions to individual problems > recognize performance and empathetic feedback on KPIs regularly, until problem is solved, really solved.
  4. Try to reduce methodologic processes, finally digitized work-processes and repeatingly breaking down strategic direction. You might be seen more as executive body than as authentic & trusted leader. Add more willingness to listen, learn und inspire your team & workforce – and try to focus & solve team essentials only.
  5. Try to have more quality time for YOU. Make a wise decision to re-invest TIME in your people, team and organization and start to relax – or: recover yourself a bit, before you invest again.

Of course, any professional leadership-training tries to prepare you for the most obvious leadership challenges – and how to master the key challenges in your individual company or leadership role. However – any experienced was challenged in an unexpected way. Covid-19 and the market implications to any leader, team or organization had been so fundamental, that they significantly changed the perception of leadership TIME – and ambitions to use TIME in a different professional & private context.

All of these leadership capabilities will be needed in future for any successful leader. As CANTOR and Founding Partner of the CFR Global Executive Search-Network – we are passionate about Headhunting and Executive Consulting for more than 25 years. We could support YOUR business growth with attracting hybrid leaders and high-performing expert labour in the German speaking region. Together with our CFR-network, we are happy to support your international assignments in more than 20 countries with local market expertise and well-integrated talent search procedures. Challenge us with your hybrid leader or expert needs – we are happy to understand more.

Article written by Marc Steuer – Managing Director CANTOR / Germany, Board Member CFR Global Executive Search
Photo source: Freepik

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