Great Leaders Show Up Early


I’ve heard people say to be early is on time and to be on time is late.

Great leaders show up early. It’s an act of discipline, of heart, of respect and of effective leadership.

The good news is that you can learn to get there early!

I’m talking early to rehearsal, early to worship service “go times,” early to meetings and early getting home!


You’re better prepared

When you show up early, you do all the little things that make life better. You put a little mint on each music stand. You get the lights and tech started. You have your stuff set down, your jacket is on the hook and you are more relaxed. Preparation is a long list of mental things that become concrete and if you always have the mental list rolling with nothing to show for it, it’s hard to lead people.

You’re more focused

When you’re early, you’re more focused. You have time to look over the list, look over the devotion, spend in prayer, or get the last-minute pieces together. This allows you to have more focus on what you’re about to do or lead.

You’re in control

When you’re early, you get to greet people. You help set the tone. You help make sure things get started correctly. It will put you in control of your schedule, the agenda, the goals, and the outcome.

Better connections with others as they arrive

Early leaders have better connections with others as they arrive. One of the most important things you do as a leader is connect with others. Take time to talk and visit with them.

Shows respect and solid leadership

If you arrive late, you are giving your people these three messages. Being early, however, sends the message of importance, of intentionality, care, and momentum.

Helps people count on you

You want people to count on you. And if you’re always late, it seems like everything else is more important.

Gives you margin and space in your life and schedule

Maybe it’s counterintuitive, but if you grow in the discipline of arriving early, you will actually add margin and space to your life. You will be able to give yourself a little bit of space as you go through your day.


Stop saying you’re always late

I think the biggest key to being on time is to stop saying to yourself and others, “I’m always late!” Once you mentally and verbally brand yourself that way, you’re in trouble – you will begin to live into it and even laugh about it. You have to stop saying it to begin to stop doing it.

Set your clock earlier

If you’re not used to being early, play a trick on your mind and set your home and car clocks a little early. You have to help yourself arrive early.

Give yourself time

Don’t schedule so crazily. Assume the dentist will take two hours. Figure that the two errands you’re running will go longer. Always figure there will be traffic. Give yourself time.

Arrive early and then do a couple of last-minute things

You can always arrive, then check your phone or do other little things. Don’t sit on your chair in the living room texting, then get into the car and drive to your meeting to be five minutes late. Drive there first, then if there’s time, deal with your phone.

Remember that being late signals how much you only care about yourself

Remember that being late is really more about selfishness. Of course, there are times when you’re late due to something beyond your control – and this may happen once a year or so. Otherwise, the chronic lateness can negate your leadership and tell others they don’t matter. And one last thing, if you’re going to be late, please don’t walk in with any drink or food you just got at a drive-through!

One last thought, I mentioned being early to home. One gift we can give to our families (or meetings with friends) is to be just a little early. It will help set a better tone for the evening and it will build “credit” on those times you just can’t help it. I once heard the most explosive time for families is in the evening – when everyone converges back home from school and work with the stress from the day and with all the things to do around the home in general. One key to overcoming this is to arrive home a little earlier than you intended….at least be on time.