Leadership Toolbox: a Flexible Schedule

[May 10, 2019] I’m reminded each time I work with leaders about how their schedule restricts their ability to do their jobs effectively. The solution is a flexible schedule that allows on-the-fly changes to minimize mission disruption.

“I am definitely going to take a course on time management … just as soon as I can work it into my schedule.” – Louis E. Boone, an American academic author

This tongue-in-cheek quote by Louis Boone is a bit closer to reality than most of us might admit. Leaders, especially senior leaders, are prone to let their schedules drive them instead of the actual intent of a schedule to create predictability. Leaders don’t survive by being rigid, and the advantage of a good leader is their skills to make changes without missing anything quickly.

I’m reminded of American football player Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots each time I talk to people about schedules. Gronkowski was a tight end who is probably the best and most popular player that ever held that position. He was key to the Patriot’s winning program, and he did this by reading the opposing team’s defense and making the right changes to his strategy. A good leader does the same thing.

Leaders keep schedules; that’s a fact of their positions of responsibility and others who depend upon them. This doesn’t translate into rigidity to the point that adaptability, predictability, and stability is lost. A good leader knows the risks associated with throwing away their schedule and mixing it up a little.

Great leaders know the difference in a schedule that accomplishes its intent and, more importantly, when it becomes necessary to make changes. A flexible schedule is something a leader should always have ready.


[Note:] I have a small mini-series on Leadership Toolboxes here at theLeaderMaker.com.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “Leadership Toolbox: a Flexible Schedule

  1. Bryan Lee

    Thanks Gen Satterfield. I again enjoyed your blog today.

  2. Dale Paul Fox

    This article series by Gen. Satterfield gets 5 stars from me.

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Yes! The series has a few things I already use but has added to those things that make me a better leader. What I have to do is to investigate them to ensure I fully understand how to use these tools.

  3. Greg Heyman

    This article series on leadership tools is one of the reasons I keep coming back to this website.
    Hey, Gen. Satterfield, please don’t forget to keep up your older series on leader profiles!

    1. Albert Ayer

      You’re right, Greg. We haven’t seen a profile in a while. I always look forward to reading them. We can all learn from the traits of successful leaders.

      1. Harry B. Donner

        I went back and searched a few. I agree that the leader profiles is a great series.

  4. Willie Shrumburger

    A flexible schedule is a great addition to this series. I’ve been using a flex sch for years and it has paid off tremendously. You just have to be careful with it and others must know how you run it. Never let your schedule run you.

  5. Lynn Pitts

    I’ve tried to create a schedule that is flexible but that is sooooo difficult. Part of the process to make a schedule flexible is that you must let your subordinates know that it is subject to change. But and this is a big but, you must still make parts of your schedule in stone (to keep predictability) and not make a change that is over something that is not a high priority.

    1. Eva Easterbrook

      Lynn, good point. You got to this before I could. Changes should be made but only if it is over something of significance. Any leader who makes regular changes to their schedule will introduce the idea that the leader is unpredictable and unreliable. These are not characteristics anyone would want to be labelled with as a leader.

    2. Joe the Aussie

      Ladies, spot on comment. CHEERS.

  6. Len Jakosky

    Wow, this short list of leadership tools is really great. Thanks again – as others have said – as it makes for a very useful set of things that make my life easier. One other comment, you don’t have to be a leader to make good use of these. Most of them can be used in everyday life; at home and with friends, for example.

  7. Doug Smith

    Another great addition to the Leader Toolbox series. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield for giving us practical tools that we should all have. Too many leaders forget these tools that could make their lives – and the lives of those who work for them – so much easier.

    1. Tony B. Custer

      You are right, Doug. These are tools and like any tool, it must be kept in good shape and not abused.

      1. Yusaf from Texas

        Tony, you are absolutely correct. These tools must be used to be in peak performance. Like the AAR, if you don’t practice it, folks will get lazy and just ‘go thru the motions’ instead of really using it as intended.

        1. AutisticTechie

          Good to see you back on theleadermaker.com, Yusaf. I hope all is well in Texas (my adopted state).

    2. JT Patterson

      All good comments about regular and habitual use of these tools. Otherwise, they will not work as intended. Thanks guys for again pointing out what should be obvious but is long-overdue for those in leadership positions.

    3. Anita

      Good points all. This is why I read the comments in this leadership blog every day.

  8. Army Captain

    Your series on items for a leadership toolbox is right on target. I have found it useful and given a list to those in my unit who have the desire to improve themselves.

    1. Drew Dill

      I have mine posted on my refrigerator and look at it, along with some great quotes, everyday.

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