Respecting Other People’s Time
Leaders who are self-absorbed or self-important commonly fail to consider the impact of their behaviors and choices on others.
Chief among the issues that display respect or disrespect is how leaders treat other people’s time. When leaders are inconsiderate about the time needs of others, they quickly lose the respect and credibility from which to build strong relationships.
We don’t fully trust leaders who disrespect us, even when this contempt is unintentional or as a result of disorganization. How leaders respect or disrespect the time of others is hugely symbolic and carries with it a host of consequences.
When leaders tell others how important they are by focusing exclusively on their own time needs and disregarding the time issues of others, team members treat them differently. They aren’t taken as seriously, given the benefit of the doubt, or extended the common courtesies reserved for those held in high regard.
Perhaps most damning is the fact that colleagues treat those who consistently disrespect their time with contempt, often mocking them when they aren’t present.
Leaders must do everything in their power not to become tone-deaf to the time needs of others. Here’s a short list of time-related issues that matter most to others:
Start and end meetings on time. Delaying a meeting because of a leader’s lateness is not only rude, but instantly devalues the time of others. Punctuality counts. So does ending on time.
Let others know when you’re running behind schedule. This common courtesy allows others to decide how to best spend the time while waiting for you. They are frozen when they don’t know when you will show up.
Cancel appointments and meetings you can’t avoid missing as soon as possible.The sooner you alert others that you can’t make it, the easier it is for them to reallocate that time.
Avoid scheduling last-minute meetings. No one appreciates having to push aside their schedule to accommodate late requests.
Respect the time boundaries of others. Calling or engaging others late at night or over the weekend takes colleagues away from their families. This is both unfair and unnecessary.
Don’t make others wait for a response they need. Slow response times impede progress. Colleagues shouldn’t have to wait on the leader when attempting to complete important tasks.
Don’t volunteer other people’s time. Maybe the most disrespectful time-related action a leader can engage in is volunteering other people’s time without asking them. Leaders who do this often think they are doing a favor for colleagues who will appreciate the opportunity, event, or function, when in reality they are committing others without any idea of the issues that might cause.
How leaders treat time says a lot about who they are. Ironically, respecting other people’s time actually suggests leaders are respectful of their own time and schedule. In fact, leaders who give the respect regarding time that they want to receive usually end up becoming powerful role models for others.
For me this manifests itself in the questions senior leaders ask.
Questions from a higher level can be a blessing and a curse.
So for example, we are taught to ask good questions. But if you’re a senior leader you may ask a question but the answer could take 2 days of someone’s time to answer.
And if that question was just something you asked because you wanted to show you where listening then it’s a total waste of that persons time if the answer isn’t really important or relevant.
These are great examples. Thanks for sharing. I think I'll use this post as an agenda item for my upcoming Training All-up. I'd add scheduling meetings - look at the other person's calendar - have they been in back-to-back meetings all morning - maybe schedule something for the afternoon so they can have a break, and sending emails - be brief and to the point. Don't make people read your 'manifesto' to find out what you want from them.