Too busy for a sabbatical? Your company could suffer

Too busy for a sabbatical? Your company could suffer | practice | What? Why? Which one gets to the heart of the issue?
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October 26, 2023
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Leading the Way
Too busy for a sabbatical? Your company could suffer
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No one doubts that CEOs are busy, but taking a month or more as a sabbatical can be good for business, say executives who have done it, including having time to formulate new strategies and allowing subordinates to step up into leadership roles. "It's made me more hands-off and far more trusting in my leadership team. It means I can focus on other matters of importance to the business," says Ling co-founder Khwanoi Kanyarat, who took a two-month sabbatical.
Full Story: Raconteur (UK) (10/25) 
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Put it into practice: If you're thinking of taking a sabbatical, start planning how you'll delegate your work and set up a check-in schedule with plans to reduce how often you communicate with your team as time goes on, CEOs advise. "If you don't have that sort of structure in place, it's hard to take a step back because you must continue setting the direction," says Simon Bacher, co-founder and CEO of Ling.
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What? Why? Which one gets to the heart of the issue?
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Asking a colleague "what" -- as in "What motivates you" -- isn't as telling as asking them why it motivates them, Susan Fowler, consultant and author, writes. Fowler quotes the blog of Judes Donin, a Mojo Moments co-founder: "The very reason we refrain from asking 'why' questions is also the reason they can be so powerful: They engage both emotional and cognitive levels in a way that other questions don't ... [and used] carefully and appropriately ... can help clients get unstuck and cause a shift."
Full Story: SmartBrief/Leadership (10/25) 
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Put it into practice: The guidelines for asking why -- which, used incorrectly, can seem judgmental -- to help a stuck, procrastinating or obstacle-laden colleague include trying to help them align their values with the why behind their what. Help them connect their psychological needs -- choice, connection and competence -- with different actions if the original plan has been thwarted.
Read more from Susan Fowler on SmartBrief on Leadership
Smarter Communication
Working from home offered a break from unproductive meetings, busywork and chitchat, but returning to the office means dealing again with constant disruptions. Those who can't become freelancers can make a few small changes to help regain sanity -- especially in a company with 25 to 500 employees, says Michael Solomon of 10x Management -- such as managing your boss' anxiety with a one-page project status report each week, suggests Michael Gardon, who leads an online community on work-life balance.
Full Story: The Wall Street Journal (10/22) 
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Put it into practice: Avoid the fray of ongoing workplace debates by waiting until the end to chime in. Pick two or three key colleagues you trust for swapping information so you're not completely out of the loop. Don't keep your head down so low that you risk being tagged for layoffs or missing out on juicy projects. And if you're the boss? All bets are off.
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In Their Own Words
Kass: AI will change work, without huge job losses
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Within the next three to five years, artificial intelligence will have evolved to the point where we're no longer talking about "using AI," but it will be embedded in almost every facet of business and will not lead to "net job reduction," says Zach Kass, who served as head of go-to-market at ChatGPT parent OpenAI. "More likely, what we're going to see is a new type of job emerge, and I don't know what exactly it will be like, but I think it will be far more human in many respects and far less computational," Kass said.
Full Story: SmartBrief/Leadership (10/24) 
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Daily Diversion
A photo taken by Dikye Ariani of an animated woman, surrounded by smoking men in an Indonesian cafe, winning a card game, has taken the top prize in the CEWE 2023 photo competition. More than 500,000 photos competed in 10 categories, including a chaotic view of people on an observation deck in New York's The Summit, a close-up of a Ugandan chimpanzee's hands and chefs taking a break during a Brazilian wedding party.
Full Story: My Modern Met (10/24) 
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SmartBreak: Question of the Day
It was the media story of 1984, when Dr. Leonard Bailey performed a highly successful interspecies transplant using the heart of what animal with "Baby Fae"?
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About The Editor
Candace Chellew
Candace Chellew
Chellew
The Raconteur story about CEOs and other executives taking a sabbatical feels personal. At the end of September, I retired as the leader of the spiritual community I founded nearly 14 years ago. The decision to step aside wasn't an easy one -- and it took me suffering through two years of burnout before I finally did it.

Not even a month away from that job's demands, I already feel freer and more relaxed. Friends and acquaintances have commented on how my demeanor has changed. I recently spoke at another local faith community, and one of my former members came to hear me. Afterward, she said, "Your fire is back. You were just going through the motions before you stepped aside."

This is dangerous for CEOs and other leaders who refuse to take a break. Going through the motions is the worst thing you can do for your company, community or family. We're all leaders in some capacity, so evaluating where you are now is good. Are you burned out? Are you just phoning it in? If so, perhaps it's time to step away for a while and let others drive while you rest.

Have you taken a sabbatical? If so, what did you learn? If not, what's stopping you? Tell me!

If this newsletter helps you, please tell your colleagues, friends or anyone who can benefit. Forward them this email, or send this link.

What topics do you see in your daily work that I should know about? Do you have praise? Criticism? Drop me a note. And remember to send me photos of your pets, your office and where you spend your time off.
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You must learn to look at things without preconceptions. Trust nothing.
Koji Suzuki,
writer
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