Break for the bottom line

Why leaders need to take a break for success.

Most people love the idea of a holiday. And the few precious weeks over the summer when a business is quieter can enable leaders to take a break, allow their brain to rest, and get away from the ongoing stresses of the day job.

A chance to reconnect with loved ones

Spending time with friends or family members can be a good way to reconnect with the world at large. Whether its enjoying breakfast together, a spa day, or going for a hike, those simple activities help to remind us that work is only part of what life’s all about. Shared experiences help to build stronger bonds and connections with the people we love – who are often those that bear the brunt of workplace stress that a leader brings home. Rather like becoming a regular saver putting money in a bank account, investing time with people they trust and enjoy the company of can bring a positive return in the future as they can be more willing to be understanding and empathetic.

Much needed thinking space

When there is an opportunity to have a change of scene it gives the brain a chance to be creative. Some leaders say that’s why they do their best thinking whilst taking a shower. When the brain is relaxed with no problem to focus on, it allows our natural creativity to emerge, and for the brain to make connections that we were not aware of before. During my month-long expedition to the North Pole, I had lots of time to think. Given that it was too cold to speak to my team-mates during our days of trekking. I realise what a privilege it is to have time to think. These days I also observe a similar effect in some of the leaders I coach, when after a couple of hours in a coaching conversation, they gain a different perspective on the business issues they have been grappling with for a while.  Creating thinking space is a key skill for any leader to have.

Long term succession planning

So many leaders are reluctant to go on holiday for fear that a crisis occurs when they are not around, and no one is able to deal with it. So, whilst it may seem counterintuitive for a leader to think about their future replacement before going on holiday, a degree of foresight can give the next generation of talent the chance to step up and gain valuable experience. And oddly, it can also mean that its easier for the person to take holidays in future, because they, and others in the organisation have greater trust that the replacement will be able to ‘hold the fort’. It takes a strong confident leader, to have one eye on succession when arranging their summer break, but with some thoughtful planning beforehand, and reflection time with the individual afterwards it can serve as an invaluable learning opportunity for all.

Sue Stockdale
Sue Stockdale

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