Leadership Qualities: Timing.

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Handel’s Messiah – December 10, 2015

Even without the title, who can mistake the familiar sounds of this symphony associated with Christmas for anything else but Handel’s Messiah?

Leaders who are discerning and time their actions carefully are often rewarded with perfect symphony approaching that of some of the best orchestras in the world (https://www.liveabout.com/worlds-best-orchestras-724384; https://www.udiscovermusic.com/classical-features/best-orchestras-worlds-greatest-top-10/).

So, imagine a leading financial provider deciding to upgrade its telecommunications systems in order to facilitate more online banking options for their customers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvOdym0Knng).  After acquiring expert software engineers and selecting the appropriate technology for their needs, they began test runs.  Short trials proved to be efficient, boosting their confidence in their abilities to handle the transformation process in an effective way.  So, they selected the next payroll cycle to conduct their implementation.  Was it the best window of time to try switching to the new platform?  The news of the NCB’s failure to smoothly transition their digital systems resulted in thousands of workers going home without their salaries on Friday, May 24, 2019.  In a phone interview with TVJ News, the CEO, Patrick Hylton, was called to account for this apparently ill-timed venture leaving thousands of workers without their salaries for a holiday weekend, and after accumulating a whole month of work-related and ordinary living expenses.

Yet, timing can also be a function of the era in which one is born.  According to billionaire investor, Michael Lee-Chin, he was lucky enough to be born in an age where he was not a slave, and to a mother who modeled industry (CVM, 2019; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f8clipUJt6M, Mins. 9:15-11:25).  So after study and work in Jamaica, Michael Lee-Chin travelled to Canada in 1977 to seek his wealth.  He landed a job selling mutual funds and decided to exaggerate his difference as a “big black man” selling wealth.  So, he bought a Mercedes with his first check.  Later, he bought a huge house that he could not afford to furnish.  Learning best practices and applying them along the way, his investments in stocks and businesses over decades have grown significantly to yield a net worth estimated at 1.9 billion US dollars today (https://www.forbes.com/profile/michael-lee-chin/#34ac880d3416).  Michael has returned to Jamaica again with a new message: encouraging all Jamaicans to invest in the world’s leading stock market now.  However, it is with a caution to not expect the same results that he experienced because we are in a different age (CVM LIVE – Business Live EXTRA – May 16, 2019, mins. 16:00-18:00).

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, timing, is “the ability to choose the right moment to do or say something, or the time when something happens” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/timing).  One of the world’s greatest athletes with impeccable timing is Lionel Messi who is once again the winner of the European Golden Shoe for the sixth time, scoring 36 goals.  He is also the first player to earn the award three seasons in a row, with 34 goals last season and 37 goals in 2016/17 (Blaugranes, 2019; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/europe/europe-sport/messi-wins-european-golden-shoe-for-sixth-time/ar-AABSPI2?MSCC=1558805422&ocid=spartandhp#image=AABSPI2_1|2).  

In every sphere of life, timing is everything – from music and sports, to launching new products and services.  Research from direct marketing bears this out.  Consider the graphs below on the best time to send out e-mails:

best time to send emails
Perfect Timing (Marrs, 2019; https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2014/09/04/best-time-to-send-email-campaign).

Whether you are promoting an event, a new product or service, timing truly is everything as digital users increase and the devices change.  For example,

  1. Consumers opened emails on laptops or PCs (55% of the time) twice as often as they did by  smartphone (25% of the time); tablets are used only 7% of the time
  2. Smartphone users typically read emails between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., with a peak time of 3 p.m. (Kaye, 2013; https://www.brafton.com/news/the-best-time-to-send-email-blasts-depends-on-the-device/).

Effective leaders who discern the right time to act cultivate several disciplines.  Here are a few things that distinguish them from the pack:

  1. They have mentors/teachers who guide them effectively.
  2. The discipline themselves to learn the fundamentals well.
  3. They practise the principles consistently.
  4. They repeat the steps numerous times with the same results.
  5. They never change a winning formula.

Don’t believe these steps work well?  Ask the millions of high school and college students who are graduating in this season how they knew what to do?  After years of study and disciplined practice, they could sense that things were coalescing to move them to the next season of their lives.  For example, the study bootcamps began, exams were sat, college applications and job applications were prepared, and, everyone around them was asking about “it.”  

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

As I close, I leave you with a thought that I stumbled upon:

“Timing is everything. Chemistry is something that you don’t just throw in the frying pan and mix it up with another something, then throw it on top of something, then fry it up and put it in a tortilla and put in a microwave, heat it up and give it to you and expect it to taste good. You know? For those of you who can cook, y’all know what I’m talking about. If y’all can’t cook, this doesn’t concern you” (Garnett, 2019).

Whether you are cooking up a life or just wanting to make a healthy meal, don’t miss your time!  It is one of the few things which once wasted can never be regained (Cohen, 2012; http://www.leadershipexpert.co.uk/leadership-time-management.html).  For more great advice on timing and life, check out my books for teens, Dear Little Sister and Dear Little Brother at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfPWaPCJ0vE  .

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