How CEOs manage time by Michael E. Porter and Nitin Nohria (HBR)

A crucial missing link in understanding time allocation and effective use of time of CEOs has been systematic data on what they actually do. Porter and Nohria’s article offers a comprehensive and detailed account of 27 CEO’s time use.  They found:

  • The job of an CEO is all-consuming – they are always on, and there is always more to be done.
    • Work on average 9,7 hours per weekday and will conduct business on 79% of weekends and 70% on vacations. Sleeps on average 6,9 hours.
  • 61% of their time is spent on face-to-face interaction; 15% is spent on the phone or reading or replying to correspondence and 24% on electronic communication (they avoid emails).
  • On average 43% of their time is focussed on activities that further their agendas. A further 36% is spent in a reactive mode, dealing with unfolding issues, internally and externally and 11% is spent on routine responsibilities.
  • They rely heavily of their direct reports – 46% is spent with one or more direct reports, 21% only with direct reports and 32% with a broader group of senior leaders.
  • Limited time is spent on knowing what is going on by walking the hallways or factory floors.
  • They manage using broad integrating mechanisms through
    • Harnessing strategy (21%);
    • Aligning organizational structures and culture (16%);
    • Designing, monitoring and improving processes (25%);
    • Developing people and relationships to improve their company’s leaders (25%).
  • 72% of their time at work is spent in meetings.
  • On average 30% is spent juggling external constituencies – customers (average 3%), investors (average 3%), non-business related activities (2%), Board directors (5%).

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