Vacation—A Leadership Lesson?

by Carla Howard



Time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. And build trust; what? Wait, really?

Yes. Especially when you are a leader.

When you take a vacation, it shows your team members that you trust them to act on your behalf.

I’m not talking about the kind of vacation where you gather your team together and announce:

“So, I’m taking a two week vacation in August. I’ll be in Hawaii, but don’t worry! I’m bringing my laptop, I’ll call in to the monthly staff meeting, and I’ll be online and responding to email early in the morning and before bed. If you need anything at all, just email me or call. Oh, and I’ll put my cell number on my out of office.”

Ummmm. That’s not a vacation.

A REAL vacation conversation with your team goes something like this:

“I’ll be taking a two week vacation in August. I’m going to Hawaii with my family, and I have complete confidence that this team is fully capable of handling anything that comes up. I won’t be taking my laptop or checking email, and Sue is filling in for me on the monthly staff meeting. I’ve put Sue and Joe down as contacts while I’m in my out of office message, and I’ll included a line to let customers know I’m away with family and will return their email when I’m back. If you get stuck or need me for anything, please call or text. I’ll get back with you as soon as I can. I trust this team, and I know you’ll do a great job of handling things while I’m out.”

See the difference? In the first example, you’ve set your direct reports up to feel like you don’t trust them. AND—unintentionally made them feel like taking a real vacation is signal that they aren’t serious about their career, or that the expectation is that we stay connected to work during our time off.

That’s not leadership.

Real vacations send these messages at work:

  • You trust your team to make decisions on our behalf and keep the business moving
  • Your leaders will see that your team is strong and functions well in your absence
  • “I’m taking a vacation… and I expect you to do the same”

In addition to building trust, you’ll have uninterrupted time to:

  • Connect with family and friends
  • Follow your curiosity
  • Travel
  • Dive into a hobby
  • Sleep in and wear your PJ’s all day (oh wait, that’s my dream)

How long has it been since you’ve taken a real vacation? If you have to think about your answer to that question for more than 5 seconds, it’s time.

Build trust. Connect. Rest. Relax. Rejuvenate.

That’s what vacation is all about.

IAAP works with the best trainers in the industry to ensure you have relevant, engaging, practical content at your fingertips. This blog is written by a speaker with a program in the IAAP Approved Programs database. Search by name or keyword to find their contact information and book them for your Branch or Region event. 

If you’d like to attend one of these events, you can find one in your area here.

Carla Howard is a professional speaker and mentor. Her passion is helping professional women become more influential and promotable so they can rise with confidence and grace. You can learn more about her and the services she offers by visiting her website at Carla would love to answer your questions in future articles, so please email them to


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