I’m writing this from the airport in Dallas after a wonderful weekend full of connection, friendship, and love. I was at a wedding for one of my girlfriend’s daughters. It was beautiful. The photo is our group, minus some who were unable to make it but no less dearly missed.
What was even more beautiful, however — or maybe equally as beautiful was the fact that I was able to completely trust my wonderful team and unplug and be PRESENT during this time. I understand fully that I set the example for this for my team.
It’s not enough that I have this disclaimer at the bottom of my signature:
“Please note: we work flexibly at MVAH, and I’m sending this at a time that suits me to do so. Please be aware there is no expectation for you to respond outside of your own working hours.”
You have to practice what you preach: you have to practice pause. I left home on Thursday evening. My flight was delayed and canceled, so I didn’t actually leave until Friday morning, but that didn’t matter. I unplugged on Thursday late afternoon after delivering on my commitments and ensuring that my team was setup for success in my absence.
Notice that I didn’t just completely abandon my responsibilities before leaving on this trip. It’s no one’s fault but my own if I overcommitted (which I didn’t), and if my timeline got tight and caused a flurry of work before leaving. Don’t be that leader that gets so wrapped up in their own agenda that they let things fall to their team to clean up because they weren’t able to wrap it up before they leave. You wouldn’t want that from your team. Don’t behave that way. You are training your team how to behave as the next generation of leaders. You have a responsibility to be the example of how they should behave with their future teams.
Along the lines of being an example of a leader who sets clear expectations, makes commitments, honors those commitments, and delivers on expectations, you also need to be the leader that demonstrates how to truly take pause and be present in your life with those you care about.
I owe it to my team to NOT be checking in, checking e-mails, bird-dogging tasks, etc. I owe it to them to know that I have a team of highly skilled, highly competent, passionate people who want to do good work — and let them do it. I owe it to my team to know that by me not visibly checking in, I am demonstrating my trust and that I did everything I needed to do to set them up for success prior to me going out of town.
Likewise, I owed it to my friends to not revolve our schedule around me needing to be on-call, checking in, near a computer or on my phone all the time. Why go if you can’t be present? I spent Friday afternoon by the pool with my beautiful friends, talking, catching up, and being completely in the moment with one another. We are all business owners and/or business executives, and not one of us was chained to our phone. We created safety with each other, and if someone would have needed to get away and work, there wouldn’t have been any shame, but we seemed to breathe a collective sigh that we would simply be together and be present.
As you take plan time away in the future, make sure that you are being kind to your team and kind to those that you need to show up for. Plan appropriately, make sure that your lack of planning is not someone else’s emergency, and set the example for your team that you not only want them to take time, but that they are in good hands and are not expected to be heard from until they return. Be kind. Take a pause.