What’s the boss up to?

February 14, 2012

What’s the boss up to?

I have always wanted to do this research. I was glad to see that someone else did it — how CEOs spend their time. Over the many years that I have been involved in understanding and studying CEOs, I have been asked for whatever information I have on how CEOs spend their day and particularly how they gather information. Many of our clients want to better understand where they are and what they do all day. In addition, I have always maintained that employees wonder too. If you asked employees, what their CEO does all day, most would not have the foggiest idea. Many people, in fact, think that CEOs spend their days counting money.
So the research by a team of academics from the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School set out to answer the question of what the boss is doing most of the time. Some of the findings are discussed in today’s WSJ. The Executive Time Project, as it is dubbed, found that this is how the average CEO’s 55 hour work week breaks out. Interestingly, they had CEOs’ assistants fill out the diaries to gather the information.

  • 18 hours in meetings
  • 20 hours in miscellaneous (travel, exercise, personal appointments, etc)
  • 6 hours working alone
  • 5 hours in business meals
  • 2 hours in public events
  • 2 hours on conference calls
  • 2 hours on phone calls

That equates to the following over a year (figuring 50 weeks with 2 weeks off for vacation):

  • 900 hours in meetings per year
  • 1,000 hours in miscellaneous (travel, exercise, personal appointments, etc)
  • 300 hours working alone
  • 250 hours in business meals
  • 100 hours in public events
  • 100 hours on conference calls
  • 100 hours on phone calls

Obviously, they spend a LOT of time in meetings and probably traveling. Again, some of the questions I would like answered has to do with how much time these captains of industry spend using social media or monitoring what is being said about their companies online. Although there is mention in the article about a CEO who also uses his time texting, instant messaging and video chatting, the time spent being “social” was not broken out.  How many are Social CEOs? Will have to investigate if they were able to isolate that piece of information but doubt it.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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