Research Articles

Leading vs. Managing Time

Leading vs Managing Time is a nuance that separates great organizers from excellent operators across any industry or enterprise.

Time – the most objective reality there is (a minute is a minute), yet the most subjectively perceived; it flies during vacation, drags during work, goes too slow when we’re young, too fast when we’re old, and has a “feel” – Friday, Sunday evening and, of course, Monday.

Time – what we say we don’t have enough of but actually have all there is, what we want to save but often squander, what we give freely to those above us but sparingly to those below, what bookends our lives but we want to control, what is often measured in money but ignored in value.

And Time at work; what we seek to manage, as we would any resource, commodity or tool.

Perhaps we’ve got it wrong; maybe it’s less about management and more about leadership, about taking charge, doing the right things, being anticipatory and strategic, all of which suggest a different relationship to time. Managing time often takes too much time, with endless lists, categories, reminders, charts, graphs – none of which are bad but, absent a leadership approach, deal with the same daily demanding reality.

“Leading” takes us to a different place in terms of time by:

  • Determining what to do, not just how to get through; what’s important to  accomplish vs. how many things to accomplish.
  • Thinking about time as “purpose” instead of “process.” Identifying the end measure of value in work and letting that measure be the focus, cutting out all the surrounding noise.
  • Looking at legacy both in the short and long-term. What will be worth remembering after the day, week, month, year, is over. What will be significant?

These subtle differences in perception can make a substantial difference in practice.

We can determine how to use time so it doesn’t use us, use us up, so we wonder where it all went. We can take charge and use time to define the value we want to achieve and the difference we want to make.

It’s time to reconsider our approach to time.

Written by Frank Ferrante