It Might be the Scariest Thing you Ever Saw

December/13/2013 5:59AM
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The calendar is the best measure of a leader’s effectiveness. It tells us where that leader sets priorities. Where does the leader go? With whom does the leader meet. How is the average day spent? The months, the years?

As a retired business executive I know the demands that can be put on your time. In my later years as a marketing VP, I felt Human Resources was running the company. In truth, it was. The CEO let that happen. That’s why that company, Amoco, is no longer in existence. We had safety meetings, diversity meetings, succession planning meetings, and all things HR. Most of the incentive pay was based on corporate performance, not departmental goals. You had to work with what was left of your calendar after HR took their unfair share. Unfortunately, corporate performance was not that great, hence, no more Amoco.

I saw leaders who spent all of their time in their office. I saw leaders who spent all of their time in the field.  I saw leaders who met with sales forces to tell them they had to spend more time face-to-face with customers. Guess being in that meeting didn’t take away from that.

As a leader you can only put heavy emphasis on so many objectives. The popular belief has always been six, at most. This leads me to the big kahuna, president Obama.

For the past four years we have been told his signature piece of work is ObamaCare. Please allow me to digress briefly. As a golfer and a fan of golf course design, there are two types of golf course design. One might be a Pete Dye designed golf course. That means someone with a piece of land contracted with Mr. Dye to come and look at the raw land and design a golf course to fit that piece of land. Mr. Dye does everything from the plans to the moving of dirt to the design of bridges. Then there is the Gary Player signature course. Basically, this means someone else does the work Pete Dye would do and at the end Gary Players shows up and agrees for a fee to put his name on the course. Let’s agree that ObamaCare is a Barack Obama signature piece of legislation. It was thrown together by a group of interns in record time with no involvement from Mr. Obama. Every piece of bad news that is coming out of this Barack Obama signature bill is a big surprise to him.

We have now learned that Mr. Obama met with Sibelius once in the past 3 years. A bit of a shock to all of us. Any effective leader would have been up to their ears in the progress of something this important. And, those are a honking big set of ears on this president. But, you must remember this is not a Obama design, it’s a Obama signature bill.

If we were to see this president’s calendar from day one we would learn this is a Obama signature presidency. He isn’t designing anything. He isn’t working on anything. He isn’t meeting with key people to get key things done. He’s doing what he likes to do and does well and not doing what a leader does to make things work.

If you saw this calendar you would find it would scare the bejesus out of you. Your perception of a president’s normal day and this president’s normal day would be miles apart. You would not have put fund-raising at the top of his priority list. You would not have put endless meetings with union leaders and the head of IRS at the top. Golf wouldn’t have hit the top of your list. Nor, would endless campaigning.

You see, you learn to create a calendar as your leadership career advances. When you take on more and more responsibility and have more and more people to supervise and bigger and bigger goals to achieve, you learn to allocate time accordingly. You don’t learn these things by being an absentee professor, a community leader, an absentee state senator, and an absentee US Senator. Hence, when you get to the big job, you have zero experience setting time priorities. You let others set them or you do what you have been doing–fund raise and campaign, even though those don’t fit the new job.

When the calendar isn’t right, like having HR run the company at Amoco, bad things happen. In Amoco’s case it went away. In Obama’s case, you get ObamaCare and a poorly performing country. Maybe someone will actually publish the Obama calendar someday, but I sincerely hope not. I don’t want to know how bad it really is.

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