Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Need for Vacation

As I vacation with my family on the island of Kauai, I reflect on the importance of vacation. I realize that these moments away from work have great importance in life. Too often we get caught up in the day-to-day and lose sight of the larger perspective. What are most important and memorable things that we do in our short lifetimes?

Vacation is not only necessary to provide a break in routine and to re-energize yourself. Getting away from the office is also healthy for your organization. Do you know an entrepreneur, a business owner, or a manager who does not or cannot take a week-long vacation? And if he does take a break, this leader will stay in contact and make himself available for work. Often, leaders setup organizations where they are indispensable on a daily basis. This type of organization cannot scale. Either the leader has built a weak team, has not learned to trust and delegate, or has not defined the framework for others to make good decisions.

If you lead a team, a division or company, you should be able to detach for a week or two or more without any noticeable impact. A good leader will not hold a pivotal role in daily operations. The team will know its objectives, be able to solve unexpected problems that arise, and make good progress without its leader being present. Everyone will know and work towards common goals and understand the overall context to make good decisions that result in success.

Now if you are a leader, don’t worry. You are not superfluous. A leader is necessary to mentor and train, to chart the overall strategic direction, and to articulate and exemplify the group's culture, among countless other things. Fortunately, these efforts are accomplished over many months and the organization will not falter if you take a vacation.

So I am free to focus on teaching my sons to build a sand castle and to snorkel in the surf. As I head back to the beach, I am completely relaxed in the knowledge that my organization is functioning exceptionally well without me. Aloha!

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