USA Today has been reporting recently on the large number of Americans that are working through holiday weekends due to our “nose to the grindstone” nature to stay ahead in an uneven economy. But while we’re working harder, is it really smart?
The short answer is NO. Leaders who continue to work through vacations and push themselves harder than ever and longer than most will find their efforts succumb to the law of diminishing returns. The harder you work with fewer and fewer breaks or moments of downtime, the more stress you create and the more likely you are to BECOME a difficult leader you wish your employees didn’t have to deal with. Here are 5 additional reasons to take that break and walk away so that when you come back you can handle things effectively.
When you need a vacation from your vacation because you checked emails to stay caught up and took a call during the family dinner, you are more likely to “lose it” over little things, get confused on the top priorities, and fuss at team members who don’t react immediately to your needs. This all slows productivity to a crawl and the work you stayed “caught up” on will then have been all for naught.
The most creative often find ways to jar their brain or stimulate it with items other than the problem they are trying to solve. Take a drive, take a walk, walk away from the problems at work and be amazed at how the perfect solution strikes you when you’re gazing out at kids playing in the pool. The way they work as a team may be the ideal solution you’ve needed at the office, but you won’t find it sitting behind your desk.
Yes, you could answer that one more email, you could take that one more call and you could fill your briefcase with all the paperwork you’re going to do at Disney in the middle of the night when the family is sleeping. You could, but you shouldn’t. Get some rest. Relax. Recharge the brain and the body so you can be fresh in the first moments of the next work day and not require coffee to keep you going while you’re fighting your own fatigue and frustration at the pace you can’t seem to keep up with.
You cannot be the leader who tells employees they must have a life when you don’t have one. It’s not consistent and they watch what you do more than what you say. If you never take time off then you are training team members that it’s important to work all the time to get promoted. Is that really the message you want to send or would you rather be consistent and authentic? Saying one thing and doing another will also cause employees to duplicate that behavior in other areas that might be even more damaging.
If you’re a Commander, as described in Make Difficult People Disappear, and you need action and results naturally, the above described stress and fatigue will cause you to go beyond your normal nice requests and delve into bossy, dictatorial and aggressively controlling land. That makes you difficult and gives employees something else to do besides their work. Take a vacation, take a break and avoid the stress that might make you the very difficult employee you help team members deal with otherwise.
Have a great Monday, an even better week and of course, stay contagious!
Monica Wofford is a leadership development expert and the author of the recently released book Make Difficult People Disappear, available on Amazon and at this link. To learn more, contact Monica directly at Monica@contagiouscompanies.com.