Over the years, a lot of managers have told me that they rarely take all of their vacation days. It's kind of a badge of honor for them. Their message, in other words, is "I'm so valuable - this place will fall apart without me."
Misguided at best, dangerous at worst, this philosophy is much more negative than positive. It hurts the organization ultimately. It can be physically debilitating for the individual and those around them.
And when I challenge this type of leader, I hear the same justifications. Do these sound familiar?
- I wish I could take more time off, but the organization doesn't have anyone to cover for me.
- I don't mind. (Or, I don't have anything better to do. Which is even sadder.)
- I never take all my days off. But don't worry about me I'm used to it.
- I love my work, it's actually more energizing for me to be on the job than away on vacation.
Dumb. Each one and any other you can add to my list. I am convinced that those who have to work around any such leader are less enthusiastic, less creative and ultimately less productive. In most cases these leaders are usually not "in love" with their jobs although they may be dangerously addicted to them. Sometimes they are simply misguided or are being conned by someone above them. Whatever the reason for not taking their vacation, however, they are wrong and ultimately harming those around them and their team's overall impact.
People who spend too much time on any activity - work or leisure - ultimately become jaded. They think they know how to work the system because they've spent more time looking at how it works. Many times, they've lost whatever enthusiasm they may once have had; all of which contributes to less-than-positive communications with their team members.
I've had the benefit of working with a lot of very successful individuals and organizations during the past 25 years and invariably, these people recognize how important it is to keep charged. The truly successful realize that taking time away from the job helps them to rejuvenate. These individuals know that after a period in a fresh environment they usually come back "clear headed" which allows them to focus on issues and opportunities with greater success.
Doubt what I'm saying? Just think about a few of those you've been impressed with over your career. The most successful and most satisfied leaders are those who know that Job 1 is to look after themselves.
Kind of like when you're in an airplane and the mask falls down. First put yours on - then look after the others around you. Those who think they can go around helping others to get their air masks on before looking after themselves.....Well, you know where I'm going with this, right?
When you are fresh, re-energized, and feeling strong, you are a better leader. Better leaders get better results. You win, the company wins, your loved ones win because they get more time with you, and your team members win. If you are a leader - take a vacation. And make sure that everyone in your team does the same thing.
Do everyone a favor. Do it for the good of the company.
John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion dollar organizations and launching start-ups in both the U.S. and Canada. The author of two published books, he is frequently seen providing advice on TV, in magazines, and newspapers.