A few years ago Stephen Abram & I were at the airport waiting to board one of those break-of-day flights. I grabbed us coffee & treats while Stephen did his usual voracious reading, and, of course, I chatted my way through the line-up. When I returned to Stephen he exclaimed “you are just TOO perky in the morning!”(Those of you who know Stephen know there was an expletive in there…..!)
Except on a few occasions, I do tend to be a morning person — and turns out that’s a good thing from a career standpoint within organizations! Harvard Business Review’s July-August 2010 issue reports on biologist Christopher Randler’s research that our biorhythms actually impact our careers. Randler builds on other research indicating that “evening people” “tend to be smarter and more creative than morning types, have a better sense of humor, and are more outgoing” but (and here’s the impact on careers) they tend to be “out of sync with the typical corporate schedule. When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards.”
Those within the “morning people” category tend to “anticipate problems and try to minimize them…..and are proactive” — important factors within a corporate structure. The early risers tend to become senior decision-makers.
He’s conducting more research to understand these cycles and tendencies more so “organizations will look for ways to bring out the best from their night owls.” In the meantime, as Randler says morning people are “conscientious”, and, equipped with this understanding of their evening colleagues, will look for ways in organizations to accommodate the strengths those who prefer to start later/stay later bring in terms of wearing the more pessimistic “black hat” that can balance out discussions with the optimistic early risers.
When reporting on this research the UK’s London Evening Standard mused “Could a Prime Minister be elected today who worked like (Winston) Churchill, reading, writing and thinking in bed before getting out of it at noon?” Winston Churchill did demonstrate the “evening person” tendencies of depression, creativity, and high-intelligence and humour — and from 1940-1945 no one cared that he started work late since his leadership was helping turn the tide of the war.
I think any research that allows us to better understand, appreciate and bring into play each other’s tendencies, preferences and behaviours is so critical, especially as our organizations and working styles become more virtual than office bound.