“Don’t Be Late”

I had a CEO whose cultural briefing to all team members and new recruits included “don’t be late” in a top-5 principle.

Funny thing? He was 2-3 minutes late to meetings all the time! But always quite apologetic.

Also, he’s one of my favorite CEO bosses (out of 6…). This is not a slight against him. He is a great leader.

But there’s a huge difference between an inflexible standard and managing expectations. Setting and managing expectations are the harder thing to do, because they’re an undercurrent of everything we do.

At NXTBoard, the governance enablement company, the governance coaches taught this mantra as the definition of integrity:

Doing what you allowed others to expect of you by the time you’ve allowed them to expect it of you to the extent you’d allowed them to expect of you.

Lone Star Governance

It’s not about whether or not you’re late. Everyone is late sometimes. It’s about how early you identify that you will be late and what you do about it. “Hey team, I’m running late” [calculate all the variables and value going on] “so I’d [like to start 5 minutes late / ask you to go on without me / start with Tom today / let me call in from the car].”

The concept scales. Rather than showing up on release date with the bad news, a true professional identifies three months before that “this isn’t gong to ship on time!” and makes a ruckus to reset organizational expectations from marketing and finance and sales, possibly halting hiring plans, marketing spend, and promises to customers.

True professionals aren’t slaves to rules. Instead, they set and manage expectations (and have a knack for outperforming them).


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