It is almost impossible when you’re in the box to think outside of it. – Adam Garone
I firmly believe that, as a leader, you will never know how good your team is unless you take some time off and leave them alone. Now, I understand that there are times in each organization’s rhythm that you can’t take a vacation. If you are in the restaurant business, it’s hard to go away in December. If you are a teacher, you can’t really take a vacation in September. But, for the purpose of this thought, assume we are in a slower time for your profession. If you don’t feel comfortable leaving for a week to go on vacation at even the slowest time, then you have probably done a bad job of trusting, training or even hiring your team.
Now, just because I believe that doesn’t mean I’m good at it. I’m talking to myself here, too.
But, think about it. What are you going to do if you walk out of the door and get hit by the proverbial bus? Is your business going to die? You may think: I won’t care. I’m dead. It’s not my problem. So, are all of your employees and their families going to be evicted from their homes when the business goes under because of your apathy? As a leader, you should care.
I also hear people say, “I can’t go; my people will steal me blind.” Or, “No one can deal with my customers except for me.” Sure, if you are an attorney who only sees clients on death row, you had better be available for those calls. But aside from that, great leaders have to take time away.
Dr. Stephen Covey tells the story of sharpening your saw in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The metaphor he shares is this: A guy is sawing wood in the forest all day when another guy comes up to him and says, “You know, if you sharpen your saw, you can saw a lot more wood and get done faster.” The first guys replies that he does not have time to stop and sharpen his saw because he has so much wood to cut.
Ironic isn’t it?
As leaders, we have to stop and sharpen our saw. We have to educate ourselves. We have to travel. We have to spend time with our families and refresh our souls. If you can’t take a week, take four days over a long weekend.
When Cynthia and I built out my calendar for the year, the very first thing we did was schedule my family time. We looked at things like when Kelsey (my daughter) will be moving out of her dorm room, or when and where she will be studying abroad this summer. We scheduled those important family times first, and then we looked at the rest of the calendar. Leaders have to be intentional about getting away.
Good leaders understand that their call to take care of family, their call to take care of themselves and their call to take care of their organization requires them to be able to spend time away – for their own benefit and for the benefit of their teams.
Question: When are you getting away this year to give yourself a break and give your team an opportunity to shine?