Can CEOs really take time off?

by Evan Davies, Chief Executive - QLD | |   Personal Success
Can CEOs really take time off?

Sometimes it is difficult to see how a CEO could ever really afford to 'turn off', and even if they chose to, in today's technology driven world, it seems impossible to anyway. But perhaps a successful CEO can't afford not to 'switch off' once in a while…

In today's globalised world, we are busier and more connected than ever, making it harder to 'turn off' and put aside the to-do lists. For many individuals, this generates a sense of guilt about taking time off, as they feel they should always be ‘switched on’ for work.

Earlier this year, it was reported that BMW CEO Harald Krüger fainted during a presentation at a German motor show. The concern was that Krüger had stated that he was ill before going on stage, yet he still decided to go ahead with the presentation. As is often the case with CEOs, work took priority over everything else, including his personal health and well-being.

On face value, CEOs live a good life - decent salary, authority to lead a company in new and often exciting ways, and retaining high profile. What is often ignored however, is the stress associated with this role.

We need to recognise that we all get worn out. A complete change of scene and separation from daily routine and responsibilities is not just medicine for the soul, but for the company also. As Richard Branson has said "Spending time away from work is important to help you maintain perspective on the challenges you face, and ultimately, on the future of your company." If you genuinely unplug, you will find the head space to start thinking about the long-term strategic issues, and the direction you want the business to take.

Whether you are in the office or on holiday, as the CEO, you cannot control the day-to-day all that much. Rather it is the employees who are closest to clients or customers on a daily basis that dictate daily results. If that is not you, stop worrying and start trusting.

Can your business survive with the team you have in place? Programmed breaks or holiday time might also be a good way of testing or future-proofing your business. If a company cannot operate for a few weeks without you, then you have not hired the right management team or given them sufficient direction and resources to perform their job.

So as the Christmas holiday period approaches, seriously consider tucking away your mobile devices and let your teams run without you. You'll be surprised by what you can do when you are unplugged - and what your people have accomplished when you plug back in. As well as improving your health, you will be more refreshed on return to generate new and creative ideas. Moreover, it will give your management an opportunity to shine in your absence - which may assist you in choosing a future successor.

Do you think CEOs can't afford to take leave - or they can't afford not to?

The CEO Institute was founded in 1992. It is now Australia's leading membership organisation for CEOs and senior executives. It provides a forum for over 1,000 Chief Executive members to connect and share their learning with each other. In 2011, The CEO Institute became the world’s first global certification body for CEOs, and in 2013, partnered with UNESCO in support of the "Malala Fund for Girls' Right to Education". In 2014, they began offering their programs globally.
The CEO Syndicate is an exclusive peer support network for CEOs. The first meeting of The CEO Syndicate program was held in Melbourne in June 1992. Offices were opened in Adelaide in 1996 and Sydney and Brisbane in 1997, with Perth launching in 2007. In 2015, the New Zealand office opened.
The Future CEO program is a certification course designed by the business leaders of today for the business leaders of tomorrow. The first Future CEO meeting was held in Melbourne in May 2012. In 2014, the "Future CEO Scholarship Fund for Women" was established, and continues to be offered today.

Membership of The CEO Institute is by invitation only. To register your interest click enquire.

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