Can You Take a Vacation from Leading?

by  Becky Robinson  |  Team Dynamics

I am in the midst of my annual “working” vacation. For the past six summers, I’ve brought my daughters to visit my parents for a week or longer, with the understanding that I’ll work while we’re away.

In the early years, balancing work with vacation on these trips happened easily. I spent time writing at Starbucks while the girls had a fun activity with my parents, or I worked during afternoon down-time while the girls watched a movie.

As my work life has become more demanding, the balancing has become significantly more challenging, to the point that I think the usefulness of working vacation in my life has ended.

I can take a trip with the agreement that I am working while my family is vacationing. Or I can take a vacation.

The idea of a working vacation is a flimsy way of excusing my choice to stay connected. By saying I am taking a working vacation, I allow an unhealthy slide from the intended outcome of taking a break to business as usual.

A working vacation can become boundary-less and counterproductive.

Will I feel refreshed when I return? Not if I never disconnect and unplug.

Can I take a vacation from leading my team?

If I take a true vacation, I am leading my team with a healthy example and freedom to disconnect fully during breaks from work.

Or if I tell my team I am on vacation and fail to fully unplug, I am leading them down a detrimental path.

My lack of boundaries teaches others to bend their boundaries.

When I repeatedly show up to phone meetings with my team, send/
respond to their email, and participate fully in our Facebook group conversation threads when I am supposed to be on vacation, I may be leading them to believe I expect them to make the same choices.

I am setting an example, and not one I want anyone to emulate.

I cannot take a vacation from leading, but I can take a vacation.

Although I am not sure how I will make next year different, I want to lead myself, my family, and my team more effectively. I am convinced that I will be able to do so far more effectively when I incorporate the disciple of true rest and a (not-working-at-all) vacation.


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About The Author

Articles By becky-robinson
I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Paul LaRue  |  26 Jun 2014  |  Reply

Thank you Becky for reinforcing this in our lives! It’s far, far too easy in our connected world to not unplug. Yet working vacations never achieve it’s purpose – it’s never an effective work time or vacation. Your points about boundaries is much needed; we spend so much time breaking down walls that hinder, but some boundaries are needed to achieve outcomes.

A refreshing post, if I may say so. Appreciate it!

Bill Benoist  |  27 Jun 2014  |  Reply

I understand the difficulty all too well about disconnecting during vacation. I am actually responding to this post during my vacation.

Although I haven’t responded to more than 2 to 3 “work” emails during the week, I’ve been keeping my finger on the pulse by monitoring my inbox. I know that’s not healthy, but as you demonstrate so well – it’s difficult not to do.

One of the best vacations I have taken, however, was an Alaskan cruise where there was no Internet, except in port. I was unable to monitor and the funny thing was, nothing bad ever happened.

Danielle Elizabeth Aaronson  |  27 Jun 2014  |  Reply

Becky, I agree with Paul’s comment- THANK YOU for reinforcing this! In a previous role, my manager used to brag that he hadn’t used a single vacation day in 8 years. Every time he said it (which was often), I felt that he, in turn, expected us not to utilize vacation days. Even with the knowledge that those vacations would lead to me being more productive and healthy, I felt anxious every time I had to let him know I would be “on vacation.” I never wanted to portray my lack of dedication and loyalty to my job- I just sometimes wanted to unplug and ‘sharpen my saw.’

Now, as I step into leadership roles, I recognize the importance of truly unplugging and truly taking a break when I say I will. It is healthy for me, but also models the behavior I expect in others.

What have you done to prepare to ‘unplug’ that have allowed you to disconnect both physically and mentally?

Danielle Elizabeth Aaronson

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