Tag Archives: Executive Leadership


“Time is really the only capital that any human being has, and the only thing he can’t afford to lose.”  – Thomas Edison

There are many skills a quality leader should have — good communication skills being one of the most important — but perhaps the second most important skill that can help elevate the workplace is time management.

Why Time Management is Such an Important Skill for Leaders in Business

Time management is about learning how to use time wisely and manage your employees effectively. When you push too fast too hard to get things done, it leads to burnout, which is the antithesis of productivity. Once you or anyone on your team starts experiencing burnout, it can be challenging to turn things back in a more positive direction.

Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people in the workplace to end up pushing themselves harder when they start experiencing burnout for fear that they aren’t doing a good enough job. This, however, can make things worse and lead to long-term burnout, which can result in severe mental and physical fatigue, a loss of motivation, a weakened immune system, and frequent mood swings.

This is why time management is so crucial a skill to have as a leader — because it helps protect mental bandwidth, which is another word for your executive functioning and cognitive capacity or the ability to exert mental effort. When you’re burnt out because your time is not well managed, it can have a significant impact on your mental bandwidth.

When a leader has mastered time management, however, they lead their team to make smarter decisions, which fosters efficiency and productivity. When your cognitive functioning is working at full capacity, it enables you to better plan out your day so that the right tasks get done at the right time. This is effective time management — not working faster, but working smarter by making smarter decisions.

Tips on How to Master the Art of Time Management

There’s no single right way to develop solid time management skills. It’s a combination of efforts and mindful behaviors that can teach you how to better manage your time and your team.

Set Personal and Professional Goals

Your personal and professional goals can impact your time management ability. For example, if you aren’t enjoying personal time, not getting enough sleep, or not making time for activities or hobbies you love, this can impact how you feel at work.

Part of learning to better manage your time and mental bandwidth is setting both personal and professional goals for growth, such as learning a new software or tool, getting better sleep, and learning to set better boundaries so you have more time for personal activities.

Automate Processes When Possible

One great way to find more time in your day is to go through all the repetitive and redundant tasks you or your team perform every day and see if those tasks can be automated. It might seem like a minor adjustment, but over time, when you don’t have to worry about doing small things, you reserve more of your mental capacity for bigger things that matter.

Delegate Wisely

Learning to delegate tasks to the right people is a key time management skill. If you don’t have enough people to delegate to, it’s potentially a sign that you need to grow your team and hire more people. Additionally, if any staff members are interested in growing into a management position, start delegating certain leadership tasks to them a little at a time to mentor them and help them grow.

Make a To-Do List of Top Priorities Every Morning

Even if you think you remember everything that needs to get done, get in the habit of sitting down each morning and writing everything down. Doing so can be a huge mental relief and help you create a better plan for your day or week. Highlight the top priorities so you know which things need to get done first to avoid wasting time on less important tasks.

Avoid Over-Commitment

Deadlines are important, but be mindful that you are setting and agreeing to realistic deadlines. Pleasing your customers is essential, but not if it means over-committing and burning out yourself and your team. The quality of the work you and your team do will be much better if you allow for the appropriate amount of time to get things done.

Allow for Flexibility

Your list of top priorities should act more as a guide for your day rather than a hard rule set in stone. You will undoubtedly have days where timelines shift and new things pop up that take precedence, and your ability to be flexible can make your day much easier when this happens. It is not the end of the world if something changes and throws a wrench in your plans. Simply go back to your list and move things around.

Allowing for flexibility also means allowing for breaks and space to decompress. This is critical for you and your employees if you want to manage stress in a high-volume work environment. Your days and weeks must allow time for self-care, both at work and at home. If you can tell your team is being pushed too hard, make them take a break. Go outside for a little walk, do some stretching, refuel with a snack — something to just allow the mind to get a little reprieve to avoid mental bandwidth being over-expanded.

Effective Time Management

To remind yourself and your team every day how to be most efficient with time, consider making a list of the “golden” rules of time management and keeping it posted where you can be reminded each day. This might seem silly at first, but writing things down and keeping them where you can easily see them is one of the best ways to remember something often enough that it becomes a habit. At the end of the day, healthier and smarter work habits and behaviors are key to effective time management.

*This article is written by Ainsley Lawrence. View more of Ainsley’s articles here.

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Do you ever notice that, right around this time during every presidential election cycle, the candidates always start talking with much urgency about how it’s the “most important election of our lifetime”?  We’re not so sure about believing that hype. As far as we can remember, total Armageddon has never occurred after Election Day.

As a wise man once said decades ago, “No matter who wins, I’ll still pack my lunch and go to work in the mines.”

And yet, a recent poll by Investopedia found that 61% of respondents are worried about the impact of the 2024 elections on their investments. That translates to worries for CEOs.

Here are some common concerns CEOs and other top executives at companies of all stripes may be thinking about, and looking for, as we run up to the “most important election of our lifetime.”

Typical concerns as election hype swirls

Uncertainty. A recent survey of CEOs by KPMG found that top executives ranked political uncertainty as their top risk to growth over the next three years. A CNN poll had a similar finding, reporting that 51% of CEOs believe political uncertainty is the top risk to growth.

Another disputed election. This is the last thing anybody wants, CEOs included.

Economic policies. Issues like tax breaks and the tax rate for corporations, a candidate’s stand on trade impacting the supply chain, minimum wage hikes, and other economic policies matter to the heads of large companies. Which candidate will be more favorable to business?

Geopolitical issues. With war and unrest all over the globe, CEOs may be concerned on a personal level, but for business, geopolitical unrest might mean supply chain headaches, price hikes and trade disruption. They are looking for candidates who will work to quell that unrest.

Social issues. There are pressures on companies in all sectors now about things like sustainability, climate change, carbon neutrality. But also, more than ever before, companies are supposed to stand for something larger than the product or service they provide. Which candidates fit best with their brand?

What CEOs may want to see from candidates

Stability.  The ancient curse, “May you live in interesting times,” is on the minds of many execs, who prefer boring, old stability and predictability in order to plan, forecast and hit those numbers.

Business-friendly policies: No matter which political party individual execs subscribe to, the bottom line for most is a candidate who is business friendly, promising lower taxes, fewer regulations, and streamlined processes.

Global policies. Many execs have big concerns about supply chain disruption after the past few years, and any politician who can normalize trade and global relations will be a welcome relief.

The good news

Despite the hype surrounding this (and every) election, there is good reason to be optimistic this year. In fact, most CEOs are. According to that CNN poll, “optimism outweighs pessimism among CEOs” for the first time in two years. And just 27% expect economic conditions to worsen, down from 47% in the fourth quarter of 2023.

The bottom line for business during this election year? Focus on efficiency, operational improvements and increasing throughput. That’s the port that will help you weather any political storm.

If history teaches us anything, it’s to heed those long ago words from that miner. Markets tend to rise in presidential election years, no matter who is on the ballot. That same Investopedia article sites the S&P 500 showing positive returns in 20 of the last 24 election years, dating all the way back to 1928.

That’s 83.3% of the time.

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To help companies reach their highest potential, executives need to understand the challenges that come with owning and operating a business. Whether it’s finding creative solutions for operations management, developing products that can survive a competitive marketplace, or building a team of directors and officers, it’s no surprise that in today’s competitive landscape, executives must always look for ways to improve their company (both internally and externally) if they want to take things to the next level.

That being said, there is more than one roll-up-your-sleeves type of leader who seems to have gotten it right. Of course, their success didn’t come without hardships, obstacles, or lessons learned but it can appear that way on the surface. Not all successful leaders have to be entrepreneurs but there is creative problem solving that goes along with the territory of risking it all for a venture yet to be navigated.

Allow this cohort of self-made billionaire startup founders to inspire you by noting their successes and hiccups. Based on their years of experience in the startup world, Embroker has gathered 13 lessons from these iconic startup leaders to point you in the right direction whether you are seeking a new marketing strategy, launching a new product, or recruiting new team members. Check out the infographic below to learn more about the lessons of the most successful entrepreneurs to overcome executive challenges.


13 lessons learned from the experiences of self-made billionaires to overcome executive challenges infographic


Learning from experience is pivotal to success when facing executive challenges. If you need guidance in operations management, contact USC Consulting Group today and put our 50 plus years of experience to work for you.

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There are many phrases that come to mind when one thinks of the coronavirus pandemic: terms like “social distancing,” “new normal,” and “flatten the curve” are just a small handful.

Yet for business leaders – especially manufacturers and shippers – the words “unpredictability” and “uncertainty” will likely epitomize 2020, as they’re something organizations continue to experience as the country and consumers emerge from the nationwide lockdown amid supply chain disruption.

“A majority said [the biggest pain point] was the unpredictability of consumer demand.”

In a recent survey conducted jointly by CalAmp and Reuters Events, industry respondents were asked to name the biggest pain point they experienced as it pertained to their supply chains. Of the nearly 800 individuals that took part in the poll –  a combination of shippers and supply chain execs – the majority said it was the unpredictability of consumer demand. More specifically, 51% considered it the most significant supply chain disruption, more so than the inbound flow of goods from suppliers (33%) and difficulties with getting shipment to paying customers (16%).

The white paper, which was released as a supplement to the survey, noted that the pandemic proved to be unusual in many ways, but most especially in terms of the fluctuations in what consumers wanted and to what degree.

“The pandemic has introduced unexpected volatility into customer demand, making it even more difficult to discern demand patterns,” the report stated, as quoted by Supply Chain Dive. “Furthermore, silos between sales and operations has hindered data-sharing, which would have proven useful in navigating these issues.”

Manufacturers experience supply chain disruption

April proved to be a particularly harsh stretch for manufacturers, a month many would point to as the height of the crisis. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the combined value of trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments totaled approximately $1.2 trillion, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. That represented a drop of over 14% compared to March and more than 18% on a year-over-year basis.

Jon Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, told Supply Chain Dive the dramatic drop off in business activity had everything to do with coronavirus.

Understanding the Importance of Strategic Sourcing eBook

Owning a business by its very nature is often fraught with uncertainty. But in an era of big data and analytics, more organizations are turning to automation to get a read on what consumers want so they can make more informed decisions about inventory and production. However, as University of Arkansas’ John Aloysius told Supply Chain Dive, the machine learning algorithms used for forecasting are guided by what consumers have done historically. Since COVID-19 was unprecedented in the Information Age, predictive analytics had nothing to draw from for guidance.

“These models suddenly become much less useful because the variability in demand that you’re going to see, it’s no longer systematic,” Aloysius added, who is a professor in the supply chain management department at the University of Arkansas. “It’s not just say, an increasing trend; it’s not just fairly predictable seasonal lifts. Everything’s just like a completely different story and the historic data is no longer as relevant.”

Bounce back better than expected

Given the amount of people who lost their jobs and filed for unemployment due to the shutdown – well over 40 million – the Institute for Supply Chain Management released a report in mid-May forecasting that the sector would almost certainly contract in 2020, perhaps by as much as 10% in terms of revenue, with capital expenditures declining more than 19%. Yet in what came as a surprise to just about everyone in manufacturing, ISM’s monthly Purchasing Managers Index for June reached 52.6%, up nearly 10 percentage points compared to May. The PMI is a numerical representation that points to the prevailing direction of economic health, with any reading above 50% suggesting conditions are positive.

While manufacturing officials did anticipate an improvement in productivity and performance with shutdowns largely lifted, the degree of growth came as a surprise for many. This also speaks to the unpredictability of consumer demand at any given time and how the supply chain responds.

Because business owners have been unable to get a read on consumer behavior, several major organizations have either adjusted their sales forecasts or done a 100% about-face.

For example, in an earnings call in May, Target CEO Brian Cornell said the following:

“Our ability to project how that [i.e. markdown plans] is going to play out over the balance of the quarter or year is unfortunately something that we can’t do today,” Cornell explained, according to Seeking Alpha. “I think there’s just too much uncertainty, too many variables.”

In its own earnings call, Walmart Chief Financial Officer Brett Biggs had similar misgivings regarding sales performance.

“The uncertainty stems from some variables that could impact performance in either direction,” Biggs warned.

Manufacturers dealing with supply chain disruption due to the coronavirus.

Manufacturers also have to contend with employees, many of whom may be reluctant to return to work over concerns about contracting the virus, which so far has infected over 3.8 million people in the United States alone, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Between June 26 and July 3, new cases totaled 326,599.

Certain manufacturers that never closed – deemed “essential businesses” – allayed fears by being proactive about how to flatten the curve. NeuroLogica, a medical manufacturing company in Danvers, Massachusetts, that specializes in portable CT scanners for hospitals, went about this by reducing their work crews, maintaining physical distancing, and handing out face masks to personnel, among other measures.

“We provided everyone with a reusable thermometer that they can put on their head to check their temperature before they come to work in the morning,” NeuroLogica CEO David Webster told NBC Boston. “And we’ve installed thermal guns at the entrance so when they walk in, it gives a heat signature. If it looks like they are too hot, we can sort of turn them around.”

It’s impossible to predict the future, but there are things you can do as a business to adjust for worst-case scenarios so that down periods and supply chain disruption can be mitigated. USC Consulting Group can help you improve sales effectiveness and performance by giving you the tools, resources and efficiency solutions you need to succeed when adversity strikes. Contact us today to learn how we can be of service to you.


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