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Time Off: A Critical Leadership Skill for Career Women

It’s summer! A time for longer days, warmer weather, and enjoying the outdoors with friends and family. It’s also the time of intense budget talks, go lives, sales quotas and strategy planning. And a time for kids out of school, carpools to camp and never popular, “Moooommm, I bored”.

The summer months are long anticipated by us all, and usually come with hope for slower paces, more fun, and kicking back. But the reality can be far from that- more juggling, the work-life tightrope higher and slimmer, and sadly more stress and anxiety prevail.

I am experiencing this differently this year as my business is largely out of my house, and my kids are around me throughout the day. It’s a blessing that I don’t take for granted, especially after decades in the corporate office world. But it has created a new set of challenges that we are navigating.

I used to find that time off also came with guilt. Guilt of not being at work for my teams, guilt of missing important meetings, and even guilt of not being “in the room”. I struggled with getting behind at work and appreciating the benefits of downtime.

So, how do we as career women create space during the summer? Time off is critical throughout the year but can act as double duty in the summer months: giving you needed respite from work and quality time with friends and family. Here are some better ways to approach time off that I have learned over the years:

  • Leading the way: Taking time for yourself teaches your staff that self-care and balance are important. You can’t tell them this- you must show them. In fact, if you tell them but don’t show them, it could have the opposite effect.

  • Fill your cup: the adage, “Place your oxygen mask on first before helping others” applies here. I have found it impossible to lead effectively if my resilience and energy are low. Recharged batteries lead to better leadership.

  • The power of help: Asking for help is critical, and is usually hard for leaders, especially for women leaders. Asking for help or delegating will allow you to take time without guilt, and may help others build critical skills. The skill of asking for help is a critical one to invest your time and energy in.

  • Transparency is a beautiful thing: If your summer is hectic or you are taking valuable time off, be open and honest with your leader and those around you. Sharing your “why” can help create a culture of resilience, compassion towards home life, and acceptance of time off for balance. Encourage your peers and teams to do the same. Let’s change the culture!

  • Guilt-no-more: Do some thought work around this guilt. What are you making this mean? What’s true? What’s the best thing that could happen? What am I teaching others? What could I do if I didn’t have this guilt? Your thoughts can be powerful things when you spend time with them.

In honor of this critical skill, I will be taking next week off from posting blogs to spend time with my family at our summer getaway spot. How will you support the power of time off in your life?

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