Want To Grow As A Leader? Step Into Your Boss’s Shoes.

Want to Grow As Leader? Step Into Your Boss's Shoes.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog that shared my experience in the value of taking real vacations.  By real, I mean vacations when you can truly disconnect as a leader. What I’ve learned is that when you do this, you provide your own team the opportunity to step up as leaders.  They have a chance to wear your leadership shoes for a while.  This expands their perspective and skills as leaders.

I was curious to better understand how things went for one of my direct reports.  So I asked Bryan Benjamin, my VP of Operations to post a guest blog on his experience. 

Having worked with Vince for many years now, this past vacation was not his first. I have been fortunate to have had a number of opportunities to lead while he was away.

Before jumping right into my insights, let me profess that I secretly look forward to these opportunities to lead while Vince is away. And no, it is not about status or getting to do things ‘my way’ while he is out of the office. Instead, it seems that without fail, something always emerges that presents me with a new chance to step-up in a way that may not normally occur.

Here are a few insights that have helped me make the most of these opportunities:

1)      Align on the ‘rules of the road’. It is so easy to get caught up in the inevitable flurry of events that lead up to taking time away. So make sure you have a final alignment meeting to get really clear on what needs to happen, what the expectations are, what may emerge, and what amount of latitude you (and others) have for decision making.

2)      Don’t just babysit. There may be a tendency that you have to just keep things moving along while your boss is away. Do yourself a favour and don’t squander the opportunity to move something forward or try a new idea. You have a great opportunity to push the boundaries a little to see what you are capable of and what you can learn along the way.

3)      Know your limits. It certainly is tempting to show you can handle just about anything while the boss is away. However, there are some things that either must wait until he or she returns or that you should engage someone else to help support. If your gut is saying you are out of your depths, you probably are. And that is ok. Better to reach out for support than to make a critical error determined to prove you can do it all on your own.

4)      Take Your Own Real Vacations.  My last and most important insight is that I too need to take more real vacations and create this same space for those who I am leading. The world will keep spinning and I realize just what a terrific opportunity this does provide for others to step-up and grow as leaders.

Thank you once again Vince for taking a real vacation and for your continued confidence that creates the necessary space for your leaders to step-up. Now that my secret is out, please start planning that next real vacation. I am already thinking about where I want to step-up next.

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One Comment on “Want To Grow As A Leader? Step Into Your Boss’s Shoes.

  1. Hello Vince:

    You’ve raised a couple of excellent points with your article and, based on what I’ve read and observed, a real vacation is not taken by far too many leaders. The first point is the need to take a real holiday and the second is not allowing others to lead while your away, thinking of course that your indispensable. These are big mistakes for leaders to make.

    Not taking a real vacation leads to inevitable burnout, not to mention, losing out on an excellent opportunity to spend quality interactive time with family and friends (something they will really appreciate). Not allowing others to lead while your away (or even when your not) is not conducive to promoting leadership growth within your team or office. Allowing others to lead, to stretch themselves, to grow makes your job easier and encourages your staff to reach outside their comfort zones and maybe even strive for a higher leadership position. After all, isn’t that what leadership succession is supposed to be about. What happens if you don’t come back to the office for some reason. Will things fall apart? Is anyone prepared to assume your position?

    So, everyone, do as Vince says, if you haven’t taken a real vacation, you should; you owe it to yourself, your staff, your family and your friends. They payoffs will be many and everyone will benefit.

    Bye for now and keep on leading!

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