Do you want to be a better leader? Sign up for my free newsletter.
I’ve always been on time and I think it started with my father.
My dad was the guy who always showed up 15 to 20 minutes early for everything. He liked to be on time. I remember when my sister graduated from Boston College. He wanted to get there early. The graduation was downtown and he had always hated Boston traffic. When we showed up to the stadium, I had to laugh. We were the first people there. We were alone in a stadium that seated more than 40,000 people.
“Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!” Eric Jerome Dickey
Maybe that’s where I first learned about punctuality. It was also reinforced when I was in the Navy. I’m not sure where I first heard it, but there was a common expression in the military that, “five minutes early is on time; on time is late.” That expression has been my guiding principle throughout my life when it comes to punctuality.
Whether it was my upbringing or my military experience, I’ve always believed that being on time is important. Especially if you consider the impact on other people. When you’re late to a meeting, for example, you’re wasting everybody’s time. If they’re sitting there waiting 5, 10, or 15 minutes for you to show up, you are affecting everyone. In my opinion, it’s disrespectful.
“Being punctual shows respect for the people with whom you work.” Angela Duckworth
A simple thing like punctuality can make a big difference in your career for three reasons:
Punctuality shows respect. When you’re on time, you’re being considerate to others. You are acknowledging their time is valuable and you respect it. Being respectful to others helps you build your political capital in the organization and will get you noticed. People want to be around colleagues who are respectful and considerate.
Punctuality sets the tone. Being early means you can allow for unforeseen circumstances. It means you will arrive on time and in the right mindset. How many times have you seen someone arrive at a meeting late, frazzled, and full of stories as to why they were late? They disrupt the meeting and it takes them 15 minutes to calm down and begin to focus. Punctual people arrive early, they have a clear head, and they are ready to go.
Punctuality demonstrates dependability. The person who arrives on time for everything is dependable. They are the ones that can be relied upon to get things done. As a leader, I’m always looking for talent. The employee who is consistently punctual stands out. They are demonstrating dependability. These are the people I’m going to give more opportunities and responsibilities to.
What do you think? How do think punctuality can affect a career? What is the general perception of people who are perpetually late? How about those who are always on time? Is it possible to be successful and be late on a regular basis? How are punctuality and performance related? Let me know in the comment section below.
Learn more about how to be a more effective leader in my new book, I have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.