Friday, February 25, 2022
This week, the leader of the free world was late, by more than an hour each, for two scheduled addresses to the nation on the topic of Russia and Ukraine. It’s a pattern. Of the man’s inability to show up for things on time, Politico has said, “President Joe Biden is not a punctual man.” adding, “20 minutes late is standard, but it is wise to allow for up to an hour.” In the month of August, last year, alone, the man was, on average, 34 minutes late for every single event he was expected at. Over a longer, four-month period, he was tardy, on average, 22 minutes for every scheduled appearance. The Washington Post commented that for Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr, “scheduled start times are notional at best.”
Certainly, he’s a busy man. But being late for every appearance is a choice. And it’s no small thing.
While it’s absolutely true that those who don’t get the little things right almost never get the big things right, being chronically late isn’t a little thing. It’s a matter of respect. And respect is a big thing – or should be anyway. Leaders who choose to never be where they are supposed be, when they are supposed to be there, have a fundamental lack of respect for others.
And that’s the point for the week.
Punctuality is a simple matter of keeping one’s word. If we tell someone we will be there at 12:30, it’s a commitment, no different from any other. When we tell someone we intend to do something, we ought to do it, purely as a matter of respect – for ourselves and for them. This isn’t a political observation. It’s a human one. See, almost nothing will destroy the trust-based contract that enables one person to lead another faster than disrespect, real or perceived.
The people we have the privilege to lead simply and fundamentally want to be valued and respected. They want little more than for their leaders to treat them the way they themselves would want to be treated. When those in charge show up on time, they tell others, without saying a word, that they matter, that their time matters, and that both are respected. They tell them that they are valued and important.
It doesn’t cost a thin dime more to be on time versus being late. But both are choices, each with remarkable consequences. One builds and adds to trust, furthers credibility, and accelerates productivity and the attainment of team goals. The other not only detracts from trust but it likewise suggests the presence of some other underlying defect, whether incompetence, malice, narcissism, or a simple inability to comprehend and manage the tiniest details. No one wants to follow people who refuse to show up on time – who say, by their actions, that they matter more than anyone else, or that they lack fundamental decency, dependability, or integrity. These are not people that others want to entrust anything to, let alone their livelihoods or their futures – or the fate of the free world for that matter.
Those who show up on time stand out, not just for being where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there but for the calm confidence that doing so affords them and for the masses of people who seek to follow them – people who would do anything for them because they know that he or she would do anything for them – starting with caring enough for their time to show up every time on time.
So, show respect for others. Show up on time.
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