The Real Truth Behind Taking Time Away from Work
“Leadership requires displaying the skill of taking time away from your work to live and show confidence in the team you have assembled.” This is something I tweeted two weeks ago while on vacation in New Mexico.
While I was out of the office, I spent some time reflecting on the importance of taking a break from your work. So often, I hear reasons why a vacation isn’t feasible: “My company can’t function without me”, “there is nobody to handle my clients”, “the staff is not capable of caring for the customer”, “I like to work”, “I don’t have hobbies”.
While I can say I have had similar thoughts previously in my career, I now recognize these as being detrimental, both to myself as a leader, and to the organization I am leading.
Impact on your Team
If you have hesitated to take a vacation because you can’t imagine how the office will function without you, or you believe no one can handle your clients, consider for a moment how your team may be affected by this sentiment.
As leaders, we are obligated to developing those around us and elevating their capabilities beyond our own. This is accomplished by instilling confidence through delegating important responsibilities and projects, connecting your team members to clients in meetings, and having open two-way communication. Do not expect your team to do things like you do. Rather, provide the tools to help them develop their own unique abilities.
When you delegate, connect, and communicate, your team develops the ability to take on more assignments at a higher level and you will develop a great organization that is a self-sustaining and prepared for whatever comes next.
The emotional influences that cause us to “not” do things are everywhere. And, time away from what many consider the biggest part of their lives creates a fear of what could happen. It is not uncommon to fear being unneeded. We fear our organization can handle operations without us. Perhaps we even fear the company will get along so well without us that employees and clients may decide we are no longer a necessary piece of the organizational structure.
The fears you have are yours and yours alone. At hb&k, we encourage time away from work at all levels. For our shareholders, we’ve instituted a sabbatical program to ensure shareholders take extended time away from work. When the company continues to thrive in the absence of a leader, we celebrate because it means our team is prepared. And when the shareholder returns? They come back refreshed and full of new ideas and energy – now with the freedom to pursue work-related passions and enhancing client relationships because the team can take care of the day-to-day tasks.
Take a Step Back
Growing up, my family traveled frequently. As a youth, I loved the adventures with a family of six and remember nothing other than the great times enjoying national parks, wildlife encounters, Chinatown in San Francisco, the small towns, the local diners, the friendly people and the laughs. My parents took time away from work to focus on family. Dad had it figured out and the time away from work served to invigorate him. My own family has a love for adventure near home and far from it. For me, it clears my mind of the daily clutter providing time to focus on opportunities outside my work routine.
Taking Time Away Helps Everyone
As I reflect on today’s business leaders and entrepreneurs who claim they cannot take time away from work, I cannot help but challenge their thinking. If your team is not prepared for an absence, you must accept responsibility for the failures that will follow. Instead, why not spend time ensuring your team can function in your absence?
Time away allows you the freedom to expand your thinking and innovation to create greater value. So, as a leader, if you find yourself looking for a hobby, having time to dream about a new opportunity, spending a weekend volunteering or, taking your family on an adventure, congratulations. You have prepared your team well and your investment is paying the dividends you deserve.
Hartmann, Blackmon & Kilgore, P. C., helps leaders and entrepreneurs develop their teams through strategic planning, leadership development, team building and accounting services. Find us at www.hbkcpas.com.