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Wednesday 21st Aug 2019

How to be a better leader…take a break

The urban myth which says the more hours you work, the more you will get done, is in fact just that, an urban myth.  In reality, the more hours you work, the less productive you become. With 24/7 connectivity it’s tough to completely switch off. We all need quality downtime away from the daily demands and routines of the working day.

How to be a Better Leader

The holiday season is in full swing and whether you’ve booked a two-week stint abroad, a staycation, or simply a long weekend it’s time to calm your mental chatter, re-energise and re-charge. The urban myth which says the more hours you work, the more you will get done, is just that, an urban myth.  In reality, the more hours you work, the less productive you become. Be a better leader and take a break.

With 24/7 connectivity, it’s tough to switch off completely. We all need quality downtime away from the daily demands and routines of the working day. Burnout at work is real and maybe more common than you think.

The UK Government’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) define work-related stress, depression or anxiety as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work. In 2018, 15.4 million working days were lost due to this condition alone, with the main work factors cited by respondents being workload pressures, tight deadlines, too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.

Be a better leader – five reasons why taking a break is good for you and the business

#1 Help prevent workplace burnout

The term’ workplace burnout’ is officially being recognised as an “occupational phenomenon.” According to the World Health Organization, the agency that guides many health providers and organisations, burnout is the direct result of “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.”

How to be a better leader

Behavioural changes from workplace burnout may include;

Clock watching at working

Poor sleep patterns

Loss of appetite

The dreaded ‘Sunday night’ feeling as the weekend comes to a close


Persistent lateness


Unable to switch off

Your wellbeing is critical to your business wellbeing. To give your best, you have to be at your best, and being healthy and motivated can have a positive impact on the productivity and effectiveness of your business, but remember, the opposite is also true.

#2 Test the impact of your absence

The mark of a great leader is how things operate while you’re away. While we all want to feel needed and in demand, a great leader will use the opportunity to test how things run, how the team copes and makes decisions.

Your goal is not to trip people up, but to test the impact of your absence. You should take confidence that the business or your department runs well in your absence and if not seek to build your leadership style and develop your people so that it does.

#3 Build the habit of prioritising & delegating tasks

How many times do you look at your to-do list and think ‘I’ve got so much to do, I just haven’t got the time to do it all’.


While that might be true, the question to ask is; ‘what have I got to do today, tomorrow, before I leave for my break away from the office?’

A period of absence away from the office focuses the mind on what’s urgent, important, unimportant and just plain ‘noise’. Chunk up your work into manageable daily tasks and delegate tasks where you can, and when you return from your break away, keep these principles in place.

#4 Agree your ‘Quality Downtime’

While the utopia is being able to leave work and not think about it for the next two weeks for some business owners and leaders, this is just not realistic, and you need to be grounded in reality to make this work.

If a complete shutdown is not an option for you block out quality downtime instead; short, regular breaks where you switch off and are in the moment. You may agree to check in with the office every morning and evening, but outside of this you are off the grid and none contactable.


#5 Quieten your mind

Bryant McGill summed it nicely when he said ‘A calm mind is your ultimate weapon against your challenges’.

Take comfort knowing that subconsciously your mind will be using the opportunity to work through any mental blockages you may be experiencing.

While lying on a sun lounger that ‘aha’ moment that you couldn’t quite get to or the solution to a problem that you couldn’t quite fathom may just come to you without even trying or thinking about it.

How to be a Better Leader...take a Break


Because you’ve given your mind space to work, to think it through without forcing it, some of the most important conversations you have are the ones inside your head…with yourself. You must allow your mind time to be quiet. I guarantee it will improve the quality of your internal conversations.

Want to read more about being a better and happier leader?

Check out my other blogs posts

4 Initiatives to Improve your Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace

15 tips for avoiding burnout so you can consistently play your ‘A’ Game

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