Time and Status, or Why the Boss is Late for Everything

There was an article in the Wall Street Journal about a week ago, that postulated that with greater power comes an expanded time universe for the powerful. We thought there was a lot of psychobabble in the article, but some nuggets of truth, which is why we’re commenting on it.

We can’t tell whether the author was being playful or making an important point, but we notice that many bosses (starting with Obama being an hour late for his recent press conference) tend to be late for everything. Bill Clinton was famously late. Some of our clients are famously late for meetings that they didn’t call, usually because they’ve overcommitted themselves.

It’s the overcommitting, and not having the grace to call or text ahead, or have your assistant call ahead, and say you’re running late, that makes people crazy and comes back to bite you . When you’re running a building or starting a business, you don’t want to annoy your employees or your backers.

There is also a psychological reason at work on chronically late people: narcicism. They are saying “I’m more important than you, so I can be late. You are going to love me, lateness and all. I don’t care that I’m keeping 10 valuable employees waiting an hour for me….I’m worth it.” This many be nonsense, you say, but it happens all the time. Think about it.

Such chronically late people don’t think about the cost in keeping employees waiting, or even the White House press corps.

So, you inconsiderate CEOs, go back and rethink how you allocate your time. You can send me a note at asechmentor@gmail.com and get our famous CEO time allocation sheet.


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