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What is the way to sustainable corporate leadership … to Good Governance as defined in the United Nations’ goals? We present the answers in our Future series, today: the CEO Day. This US American idea is so compelling that it is a mystery why the word has not spread yet. For what would serve an enterprise better than have their top executives work in all peace in quiet — at least for one day per month — rather than spend their time in video calls and meetings?
The Value of a Day without Commitments
In 2017, Michael E. Porter and Nitin Nohria of Harvard Business School published the results of a long-term study1: top decision-makers are practically always “on duty“. Their working average on a regular week day is approx. 10 hours, approx. 4 hours on weekends and 2.4 hours even on vacations. Everybody wants to have access to them; the study participants spent aorund 72 per cent of their working time in meetings. On top of that, there are representative obligations, such as appearances at associations or in the media, or welcoming new staff members.
So it seems like a dream come true when their schedule has a minimum of one work day per month without any appointments or commitments. But it is a dream with clear benefits: as a business person, you can finally do business, e.g. come up with your own ideas, draft projects and, most of all, be spontaneous. The mid and long-term effects in terms of sustainability are massive: you will get a much more direct and therefore better feeling for your enterprise. What is more, a manager who dares to break new ground in such a way will also motivate their staff.
Escaping Routine, Embracing Joy
So what do you do with a day that suddenly pops up in your diary all white and clean? For a successful CEO Day, business consellours recommend you look at concrete topics – without the pressure of presenting a result at the end of the working day, mind you. Among the tips are enjoying creativity but also relieving yourself of the pressure of long procrastinated tasks:
· You could take the time to cross-check corporate figures or study the market. What are recent developments and what do they indicate? Do KPIs really tell you what you want to know? Where are new opportunities evolving and where would it be better to draw the line?
· You could unclutter your in-box and use the time to finally read through some of those interesting newsletters or magazines.
· You could brush up your knowledge – with technical magazines, a new book, or by sitting down together with your internal subject matter experts.
· You could work on your own ideas or draft new strategies for your enterprise. Do not forget your own good in the process, though: What could you do in order to better delegate tasks and thus take away some of your working load?
· Speak with co-workers that you would otherwise only meet in the corridor … and, most of all, listen to them. There may be an otherwise inconspicuous office clerk with interesting ideas for your company under their chest.
How to Make Your CEO Day a Success
In case you are beginning to like the idea, here are a few tips for putting it into practice:
· From the very beginning, involve your ’inner circle’ by explaining the purpose of a CEO Day. This way, you will avoid irritations that may occur when you unexpectedly remain unavailable for the entire day.
· There is no need to spend the day at the office; a quiet café or your own patio surely make for good alternative working locations. Just do make sure that your surroundings are not keeping you from working.
· Keep routine tasks out of this day! For, if you don’t, it will become a repository for open items on your to-do list and quickly degenerate to just another working day.
And now a final and especially good argument for your CEO Day: it promotes sustainability and your good leadership qualities without costing you a single cent!
1 Harvard Business Review 2018: „How CEOs Manage Time“ – hbr.org/2018/07/how-ceos-manage-time