If you’ve been following me for any period of time, you probably know that I consider myself a productivity enthusiast. But in the recent past, I’ve started to feel that many traditional concepts of “time management” are just incomplete. The modern trend to focus on tips, tricks, and hacks has removed the nuance from the conversation and forced us to blindly adopt a “faster is better” mentality. Lately, I’ve come to think of my approach to time management more as time leadership, which I realize is not common terminology. If this is a new idea for you and it sounds intriguing, this video and article explain the concept further.
The article below summarizes the video content.
You probably have heard before that management and leadership are fundamentally different things, but the two words are often used interchangeably.
The way I see it, management is more about tactics, execution and implementation of the vision—whereas leadership is all about strategy, setting the vision, defining the course, and rallying the troops in the right direction. Put another way, leadership is about WHAT we’re doing and management is about HOW we’re actually going to do it.
Or, as Peter Drucker says, Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.
Put yet another way, management is efficiency, leadership is effectiveness.
Maybe you’re already seeing how these concepts translate to time.
Time management in the traditional sense is management…it’s about getting the work done accurately and in the most efficient way possible.
Time leadership is a different animal. It’s about determining the right work to be doing, which in today’s world, is essential. We all have too much to do and not enough time. So, time leadership is about prioritizing and negotiating expectations. It’s also about helping to drive others (whether that’s your team or your leaders) to focus on the right things at the right time.
Time Leadership doesn’t require a traditional leadership title or complete time freedom. You can still be a time leader even if others are defining the vision and assigning work to you. Rather than simply managing that workload, a time leader will critically evaluate it. They’ll consider each task’s importance and urgency in comparison to everything else on their plate. They’ll ask, “Is this truly the right use of my skills and time? And if so, when is it most appropriate time to tackle this work?”
A time leader isn’t just concerned with speed and checking things off the “to do” list. They’re an active participant in the process. They aren’t afraid to push back (politely and professionally) on unrealistic expectations. They’re comfortable asking questions and delegating. They don’t have to have complete control over things; they just need to leverage their influence. After all, that’s what good leadership is all about.
Time management—the efficient execution of the work—is still important. But time leadership is equally so. Far too often, the productivity conversation centers on management when really, effective leadership would make the management part a whole lot easier.
Based on this differentiation, which are you currently? Are you more of a time manager or a time leader? Is that serving you well?
For now, I’m going to continue using the common “time management” terminology because that’s what most people are familiar with. But my upcoming Time Management Learning Lab is actually a blend of time management and time leadership principles. Discussing these concepts together is a very powerful approach to dealing with overwhelm and learning to get the right work done at the right time with less stress.