November 29, 2022

Leaders Value Their Time


What is the most precious resource we have? Is it water? How about petroleum? If you think about the question from a business perspective, maybe it is people.

As an educational leader, I would say our students are our most precious resource. So, let me reframe the question. Why? Because your response may change depending on your profession.

What is the most precious resource we have as an individual? Would your answer be knowledge? During a conversation with a leader I coach, we discussed this question. When I asked them the question, the first response was their staff.

Over the next ten minutes, they explained why they felt their response was correct. After the leader finished, I restated the question. However, I emphasized their perspective as an individual, not a leader.

After a few minutes of reflection, the leader said, “myself.” I asked them to explain. They discussed their impact as a leader. They repeated one of my favorite statements while wrapping up their explanations.

What is the statement? “Everyone takes their cue from the leader.” After I finished smiling, I agreed with them concerning the impact of their leadership. After that, however, I shifted the conversation to focus on them as a person.

After an awkward pause, I asked, “how were they managing their time?” As I let the question linger in the air, I saw the light bulb go on in the leader’s face. They said, “time is my most precious resource.”

So why is time the most precious resource for a leader? Because how a leader uses time will determine their success.

During Live2Lead 2022, Audie Award for History and Biography and Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Kearns Goodwin discussed the importance of finding time to relax, replenish, and think for leaders.

As a world-renowned presidential historian, Doris is a leading expert on how presidents find time to relieve the stress and pressure of leadership. For example, Abraham Lincoln went to the theater, and Teddy Roosevelt exercised for two hours daily.

During her presentation, Doris shared the rituals presidents used during turbulent times to help them achieve their goals. For example, to find time to think and relax, Lincoln would spend time at the Soldier’s Home asking soldiers questions. During his visits, Lincoln crafted his strategy to emancipate the enslaved people.

After an early heart attack, Lyndon B. Johnson shifted his focus to creating the “Great Society” by expanding civil rights, access to healthcare, and his “War on Poverty.”

According to Doris, bedtime rituals also helped presidents relax after challenging days. Teddy Roosevelt’s bedtime ritual included writing letters, while Lincoln read Shakesphere and pardoned soldiers.

So what are the lessons leaders can learn from Doris’s writings about presidents? Well, Doris reminds us to carve out time to relax, replenish and think. She also encourages us to establish daily routines.  

“The past is not simply the past, but a prism through which the subject filters his own changing self-image.”

-Doris Kearns Goodwin

Remember, consistency compounds over time. As the leader, you cannot give what you don’t have. So, take time every day to relax, replenish, and think.

How are you valuing your time?


Want more expert educational leadership guidance? View the Moore Leadership Moment on YouTube.

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Dr. Kim Moore

About the author

Hi, I'm Kim, Your Leadership Guide. I equip aspiring leaders to lead with confidence, emerging leaders to expand their influence, and accomplished leaders to achieve significance!