48 weeks of holiday preparation

July 3, 2020

If you want to experience a truly relaxing holiday, you have to make yourself as expendable as possible. Expandable in the sense that your absence is only noticeable quantitatively but not qualitatively.

This year everything is different, yet everything is the same. Summer is here and we are allowed to travel again. However, the expectation we have of the post-Corona-lockdown holiday is a bit different than usual. This time we expect it to be as relaxing as ever. We want to enjoy it even more than usual. The good news is: no special preparation is required. 

Inspired by Kay Mantzel’s as always captivating article, I asked myself which factors determine how well I can switch off during my free time. My answer to this question is: it doesn’t depend on the one or two weeks prior to a holiday, but rather on one’s own perception and role within the company. 

Everyone is replaceable 

The key to a relaxing holiday is the well-known saying “Everyone can be replaced.” But how does one live by that? And what does it mean for an executive? 
I found that the most important thing is to always have it as a goal in mind. I can’t suddenly be another boss before the holidays, expecting my team to do their job, while I spend the rest of the year making all the decisions on my own and simply giving out tasks to the team. 

I have to make myself replaceable by planning in advance. And I have to do that without a time limit. It is certainly not enough to delegate my tasks one or two weeks before a holiday, inform all customers and partners, and expect everyone to keep still until I get back. And then having to catch up on the accumulated workload after the holiday definitely doesn’t make up for a relaxing time. That is no way of living by the saying that everyone can be replaced.

How can things be better? Let the team do it. When there is always someone in the team who sees that something needs to be done and takes care of it, then you are as close as possible to your goal. That sounds simple, right?

So how do you get there? There are many ways to reach this goal. Fostering a culture of failure is one. I myself make plenty of mistakes. So of course, I tolerate the mistakes of others and recognize their importance. They are here to learn and not to be sanctioned for failing to deliver optimal results. 
Transparency is another. Sometimes a decision has to be made quickly. When I do so without involving anybody from my team, I make sure to communicate it to the rest of the team in all transparency and also explain why I didn’t involve anyone else. 
Restraint is part of it. Of course, I often have an opinion on upcoming decisions. To avoid the HIPPO effect (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) I try to listen as much as possible and share my opinion last – or not at all. 
This has to be accompanied by patience. Others may need longer to make a decision, but in the end, it may be better than your own. 

All these topics are discussed under the terms #newwork, #digitalleadership, #empowerment, and the like – as I think is right. An executive’s vacation is just one example of how a company works better if you follow these principles. 

Making myself replaceable is a process and I can’t claim to have reached my destination. However, the time before and after the holiday once again highlights how important it is to not lose sight of this goal and to use the 48 weeks in which I do work to ensure that my holiday weeks are real relaxation. 

On that note – I’ll be off
Cordula Lochmann

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