Mar 112013 0 Responses

Two Questions Every Leader Should Ask

Warren Bennis in his classic book, On Becoming A Leader, differentiates between management and leadership by saying “management is doing things right”; “leadership is doing the right things.”

When we think about time, the most common word associated with it is management. Time management is about effectiveness and efficiency. It’s about using the individual minutes and hours of our day in the right way. It’s about the oversight of details. Time management is important, but what about time leadership?

Time leadership is about using time in its proper context of our lives and this world. We can manage time toward efficiency and effectiveness every day, but unless we are leveraging that effectiveness toward the right things, it doesn’t matter.

The ancient Greeks saw the difference between time management and time leadership. In Greek, there are two different words used for time—chronos and kairos.

Chronos is the word from which we get the word chronology. It’s the linear description of time in seconds, minutes, hours and days. “What time is it,” is a question of chronos. To focus on chronos is to focus on time management.

Kairos is not so much about specific seconds and minutes as much as it is about an appointed time, a moment of action, the time which is remembered. It’s about opportunity; it’s about the big picture. “Is this the time,” is a question of kairos. Kairos is about leadership.

Chronos is concrete; Kairos is abstract.

Chronos is measured; Kairos is experienced.

Chronos is data; Kairos is art.

Chronos is neutral; Kairos is either right or wrong.

Chronos is time; Kairos is timing.

We need both—management and leadership. We need to manage the details of our lives with efficiency and effectiveness, but we need to do so under a grander understanding of our purpose and opportunities. To focus solely on time management would be arrogance—believing that we naturally know and do what is important. To focus solely on time leadership would be ignorance—failing to understand the big issues of our lives are often determined by the details.

It’s Monday. Every leader is facing two important questions: What time is it? Is this the right time?



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