I've never been a big believer in extended vacations. Not that I wouldn't like to enjoy a long respite from the trials and tribulations of the workplace. It's simply that being away from my place of employment for a long period of time has always made me nervous. After all, there are things that have to be done, and when I'm not there to do them, I can't be sure they will be done right.
Too many of us are cursed with that "I need to do it all myself" virus. Maybe it's the way we were raised that compels us to try to do everything ourselves. A psychologist would probably tell us we have a compulsive disorder--or maybe something more serious. I don't know what it's called, but I know I had it for many years during my career.
Then one day recently I awakened to the fact I couldn't do everything myself. I don't remember whether it was because of a book I read or simply a self-revelation. What I do know is that I realized it wasn't necessary for me to be involved in every aspect of the work at my office. For too long I had forgotten that I had very talented colleagues who were capable of doing superb work with or without my being present.
It took me years to come to that realization. Too many of us, I believe, have the same problem. Either we forget or are too insecure to give others the freedom to do what has to be done.
Of course, people sometimes go to the opposite extreme, and that's not good either. I had a good friend who ran a flourishing healthcare construction/design business. His company was booming. As a matter of fact, things were going so well he decided to take a six-month sabbatical. And he spent his time off at his vacation home in Colorado.
I saw him just before he left, and he was filled with enthusiasm and anticipation. He was sure he was going to write the book he had always wanted to write.
About eight months later, I met him on a flight to a trade show, and he was not happy. He told me he had literally "walked away" from his company, and by the time he returned it was near bankruptcy. His colleagues had failed him. "It was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life," he said. It took him about three years to get his company back on course.
Now, few of us are in a position to take a six-month vacation, even if we want to. Regardless, anyone trying to run a successful organization must avoid the mistake made by my friend, who either had not mentored his people properly or had not hired the right individuals to begin with.
Mentoring and then trusting your employees is a key element in any business. Unless we as leaders are willing to give our key executives the trust and freedom they need and want, then every vacation we take is destined to be filled with anxiety. As a result, we will be unable to detach from our cell phones, lap tops, faxes and other assorted technologies that keep us in touch every moment of every day.
I believe that any executive who is unable to find time for some R & R has failed to give his or her subordinates the trust, confidence and authority they need to accomplish the work they have been hired to do. Good executives hire the right people for the right positions and empower them to contribute their best effort.
It all starts at the beginning, Charles S. Lauer Publisher