"Time to Lead, and Live" by LTG James Dubik, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Time to Lead, and Live

by LTG James M. Dubik, U.S. Army, (Ret.) ARMY Magazine, June 2010

Think about this: Each of us has all the time there is, so the real issue for leaders is how to use that time wisely. After publishing an article years ago about the training and leader development programs that CSM Ron Semon and I used in our infantry battalion, the typical question I heard was, “How did you find the time to do all that?” As I have interacted with leaders over the years, many have asked a similar question: “How do you find the time to lead, not just respond to the demands of daily business?” My answer has been consistent: “You’ll never find time to lead; you have to make time.”
To help me structure my time, whether as a commander or in a staff position, I have asked myself four questions. I cannot claim that I’ve always answered these questions correctly, nor can I say that I’ve always used my time most effectively. But by asking these questions continuously, I believe that I have, more often than not, been able to focus myself and my organization on what was important. I offer them for your consideration.
  • My scheduling and calendar process is supposed to help me focus on what is important. Does it?

The issue is not to try to do more. Although it sounds un-American, more is not necessarily better when it comes to scheduling time.The first thing the senior leader has to do is list what is important to him or her and to the organization, then translate that list into an action and frequency checklist. For example, a battalion commander might say “developing my subordinates” is important. That may translate into “conduct separate leader-development classes for my lieutenants and captains each quarter,” with similar sessions held by the command sergeant major (CSM) for platoon sergeants and first sergeants. A brigade commander might say that “staying in touch with the spouses of soldiers in my command” is important. That might translate into “host breakfasts for spouses at my home monthly with my CSM.” Finally, a division commander might say “establishing a relationship with the local community and media” is important. That might translate into “meet with a local political leader, business leader or media person each quarter,” or “host a community-leader social event and a media roundtable semiannually.” The result will be a list of actions that becomes part of the leader’s daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, semiannual or annual “battle rhythm.”

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