What a CEO should be doing with their Executive Time

A key shift that must accompany any CEO coaching/advisory engagement I’m a part of is the creation of Executive Time. I often have to work quite hard at making a case for it.

Executive Time exists for ‘sense-making’. The busyness of daily operations and the required brainwave mode (the Beta brainwave – see below) do not create deep insights. It’s more about just getting things done.

But if you seek high performance, then, as a CEO, you are going to be required to get into the Alpha and Theta brainwaves that allow deep insights to form. These deep insights are the game-changing insights that CEO rely upon to create: pivots; innovations; different organisational formations; and unseen threats. 

Creating Executive Time is harder than it appears because organisational patterns are sticky (busyness, meeting overload, delivery schedules etc.). However, once this thinking time is created, it becomes a haven for the CEO that is relished and protected. 

For a CEO, the sheer volume of dynamics within a business can, through overload, bring about a lack of ‘system intimacy’: becoming out of touch with the nuanced, subtle and often hidden patterns forming across a business. The patterns determine a business’ total performance so they are crucial to be aware of. 

These questions might help you shape how you use your executive time to help you build system intimacy and become aware of these patterns.

  1. How far/close is the business from ‘optimal’ performance?

Seeing where potential is available for capturing

  1. How cohesively is the organisational ‘dance’ happening ?

How the competent parts of your business are working together

  1. What has outlived its usefulness and needs to be cut away?

The evolution of a business inevitably requires threshing

  1. Where is your focus, as CEO, most needed?

Allocating your time, energy and attention accurately

  1. Where are you in flow and thriving, and where are you blocked that requires capability-building?

The ever-changing requirement of a CEO requires continuous learning

For operationally-leaning CEOs, the above might look fluffy and less important than immediate business needs. My counter is that asking and answering the above questions provides performance leverage that no near-term operational activities will ever provide. Those daily activities are a (necessary) ticket to the game, but they won’t win you the game. 

Recognising the need and creating the space for Executive Time is one of the key breakthroughs high-performing CEOs achieve when ‘making the turn’ from a traditional CEO to a progressive CEO. There are many others, but the recognition of the importance of thinking, stepping back to build understanding and creating an informed perspective is an important ‘first domino’.

You May Also Be interested In

What are you CEO’ing for?

I was met with a confronting question recently that stayed with me. What am I living for? It’s a complex question that has two parts:

Nature bats last

The final photograph in the book ‘Let my people go surfing’ (the seminal autobiography of Yvon Chouinard, the CEO of Patagonia and probably the most

Engage with Lockstep

Found this article insightful? Contact Lockstep today to assist your business with world-class leadership solutions.