Summer downtime : A Must for Leaders.
"A summer holiday is a must if you want to keep that flexible and resilient mindset that makes you act and lead with influence and credibility"
Perhaps your idea of an ideal summer break is taking in the greens of Iceland's misty landscapes... or maybe it is exposing yourself to warm sunrays by the sea... whatever takes your fancy, I hope you are satisfying that vital need of taking a summer holiday (or have done). Because disconnecting « from it all » has more to it than just consciously leaving your i-phone behind before heading to the pool or tearing yourself away from the temptation of hunting for the hotel's wifi password...
So what exactly can a summer break have in store for us leaders ?
According to the various leaders I have interviewed recently, breaking away from the office and all that goes with it (politics, the cantine, the humming of the printer, ...) is far more productive than a team-building day away.
In Neuro-Linguistic Programming, there is alot of emphasis on one's « state » and changing it to optimize one's performance. Well a summer holiday does just that, where we find ourselves functioning in a completely different « space » than that of the Monday to Friday ritual, a space where we naturally start to unwind and rest... and a liberated state which enables us to give way to spontaneity and innovative ideas.
One of the keys to being a Star Leader™ is the ability to gain perspective. Yet this may seem near-impossible in the workplace's reality, when you are bogged down with endless task lists or distracted from your leadership role by reports pulling your strings to micromanage ... Typically, gaining perspective is considered as something that happens on the off-chance, accidentally, even. Yet this is a skill that indeed can be entirely mastered to keep you ahead of your game as a leader.
So what exactly is Leadership Perspective ?
It's the angle from which us leaders reflect and take action ; it is also our decision compass. It represents the way we see ourselves and interpret situations, how we judge the relative importance of things, and how we establish a meaningful relationship with our surroundings. Leadership Perspective is what enables Star Leaders™ to develop a flexible and resilient mindset in order to be influential and credible.
Gaining a Leadership Perspective is all about shifting and broadening our perspective, so we can see the wood from the trees. That is how Alan Mullaly, the car manufacturer Ford's former CEO, saved the company from bankruptsy by letting go of – and selling off - some of Ford's model icons such as Jaguar and Aston Martin. That is also how Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, decided to change his leadership purpose by stepping down as chief executive whilst awaiting the court decision in the antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft, and instead stepping into a completely new adventure of creating the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation...
So, back to the beach... with a notebook and pen at hand.
Here are the five thought-triggers which will get you ditching your tunnel vision in no time :
- Track your Progress : Draw a time line, and mark NOW in the middle. What milestones – quantitative or qualitative – have you achieved in the last six months, and how do you want to see the next 6 months unfold ? (don't forget to pat yourself on the back for your accomplishments !)
- Learn from your Mistakes : In hindsight, what could you have handled better, and how would you do it differently this time round if you were faced with the same situation ?
- Become more aware of your Limitations : What is your biggest limitation today ? How did you get to have it and how do you plan to transcend it ?
- Unlearn and Let Go : What do you need to unlearn and let go so that you may free yourself up to increase your focus on what you have and make you more effective as a leader ?
- Step outside your Comfort Zone : The « Magic » happens far away from what you do systematically. What extreme step could you take to start leading differently ?
Get writing and let the Leadership perspectives start shifting !
Oh, and one last bonus to being on holiday? You'll end up delegating not only the tasks you don't want to do but also those that are important to you, thus fostering a higher level of trust. You'll be welcomed back to the office with highly enthused and engaged employees.