I have had the opportunity to lead at several levels on church staffs and in business environments. Early on, I noticed one irritating behavior that bothered me more than all the others. It really seemed to get my goat: people showing up habitually late! I know there are circumstances that can make you late once in a while, but I have come to this conclusion: people who are often late don’t value my time or other people’s time! When I ask someone who is late- “Help me understand”, they always have an excuse, have you been there? A pastor friend and mentor of mine had a standard reply whenever I made an excuse; “An excuse the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie”. (I just discovered through a Google search that Billy Sunday is attributed that quote). When someone is late to a meeting we have scheduled- several things come to my mind:
- Maybe they are thinking, I am really busy- you are not so you can wait or
- I am not ready for the meeting or maybe
- I think my time is more valuable than yours.
Bottom line- I believe habitual tardiness is rude!
When I have assumed a new role of leadership, my first group meeting sounds something like this. “I am honored to work here and I hope you feel the same way. I want to create a culture where people are treated with dignity and respect. One behavior that demonstrates this value is being on time for meetings. If you arrive on time to my meeting- you are telling me you understand the value of time and you are willing to follow. If you arrive early- you are telling me you are looking to lead. If you arrive late- you are telling me you want to look for a new job”.
If you fashion yourself as a leader and you are regularly late for your meetings you are sending a message of elitism and disrespect! Do not make excuses for this behavior- make some changes!