Oct 202016

You, Too, Can Take Six Weeks Off

You, Too, Can Take Six Weeks Off

Note:  I have been really quite on OnlyOnce for a few months, I realize.  It’s been a busy stretch at work and at home.  I keep a steady backlog of blog topics to write about, and finally today I’ve grabbed a couple minutes on a flight to knock one out.  We’ll see if this starts me back on a more steady diet of blogging – I miss it!

I’ve written in the past about our sabbatical policy at Return Path, from what it is (here) to how much I enjoyed my own (here), to how great it is when my direct reports have been on Sabbatical so I can walk a few miles in their shoes (here and here).

But recently, a fellow CEO asked me if there was a special set of rules or advice on taking a sabbatical as a CEO.  My quick answer to his specific question was:

Well, first, you and your co-founder can’t take them at the same time. 🙂

But I have a longer list of thoughts as well.  It’s not easy, but as I’ve said many times, it’s important and wonderful.  Some tips:

  • You have to make sure your balance sheet is strong and you’re not raising a round of financing
  • You’re best off doing it a week or two after a Board meeting (and obviously, don’t miss one)
  • You need everyone on your team to know about it and get excited for you!  They will rally/rise to the occasion more than you think
  • You have to do a total disconnect, otherwise it doesn’t count.  Literally turn off email.  But make sure the team knows they can call you if there’s a true emergency
  • Put someone in charge of keeping a running list of things that happened and be in charge of your “re-boarding”
  • Put one person clearly in charge while you’re out, or tell your senior team that they’re responsible for collectively being in charge – either can work as long as you’re clear about it
  • Be prepared to cancel or shift your plans if an emergency comes up before you leave

This last one is important.  I’ve postponed sabbaticals twice, and while it’s been a little tumultuous both at work and at home, it’s been better than going on a sabbatical and interrupting it with work, which I’ve also done.

Speaking of which…I’m coming up on my 17th anniversary, which in our book means it’s time for another one!

Filed under: Business, Leadership, Return Path

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