Archive for October, 2013

Calendar Contrails

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

We have all seen them. Those mysterious white lines in the sky that trace the flight paths of jets. They are called contrails.

Contrails is short for “condensation trails” or vapor trails, those white clouds created by water and ice crystals flowing from the exhausts of aircraft engines. On a clear, cool fall day, you can see hundreds of these contrails crisscrossing the sky, east to west and north to south. At the head of each contrail, of course, is the aircraft from which it emanates. Following the trajectory of the contrails, it is easy to see in what direction each and every aircraft is flying.

Likewise, the modern executive has a tool that does much the same thing as a contrail. It is called a calendar.

There is no more precious commodity for an effective leader than their time. Engaged leaders know how to best leverage their time and efforts in order to get important results. The reality check of whether they are spending their time wisely and strategically lies in a review of their calendar.

A vast majority of leaders use Microsoft Outlook for their calendar. This calendar allows for the color coding of entries, with a full color palette to choose from. With almost every executive I have coached over the last eight years, I have challenged them to use the color coding scheme to assign colors to their top goals, and then trace the colors onto their calendar. I then ask them to step back and analyze the “story” that is told by the colors on their calendars. Time and again, these pictures have been worth at least 1,000 words. The immediate impact of this rearward-looking assessment is to drive awareness on the part of the leader of the importance of the activities that find their way onto his/her calendar. And to manage them.

In the same way that a contrail indicates the direction of an aircraft, so does a leader’s calendar, when evaluated in the right light, indicate their direction.