Vacations, Holidays, and the Importance of Taking Time Off

What does it mean to lead well through the holidays with all its distractions and deadlines, and people’s different beliefs and cultural backgrounds?

On today’s episode, co-hosts Richard Lindner and Jeff Mask talk about the holiday season and how it can be exhausting and loaded with dangers and pitfalls. But it can also be rewarding, even life-changing, with a few key mindset shifts. 

Listen in for some heartfelt tips on turning the holiday season into an incredible opportunity for you and the people you lead. 

Who Gets Your Time and Energy This Holiday Season?

In the past, Richard has taken on more responsibility as a leader during the holidays so he could give his team the gift of recharging and spending time with their loved ones. But his “selfless” act often turned into him feeling resentful. On the flip side, he’s thought, “I’m important, and I deserve this time off, so everyone else can take care of everything.” Neither one of these extremes is healthy.

So, how do we make sure the key initiatives are still accomplished, but the workload isn’t given to one side or the other? Not 100% or 0% delegation, but working together to complete the truly important tasks while also giving the gift of recharge to ourselves and our team? How do we focus on what’s important and avoid resentment?

Jeff often talks about work/life integration and making sure you know where you’re going to spend your time, making sure your loved ones know you prioritize them. But how do we do this and get the work done? Most leaders have individual roles, management roles, and a family life. That’s a lot of hats.

The next level after work/life integration is work/life harmony. When you create a chord in music, everyone knows the role they’re playing and we’re all on the same page. This harmony requires proactive communication. What are the critical tasks that still need to happen and who is owning them? What are our contingency plans? 

At the root of a lot of our stress is workaholism and fear of failing. That fear drives us. Get a plan in place to make the holidays awesome and full of love and life instead of fearful and exhausting and being a martyr.

Ask Questions and Get Curious

Richard says he used to think leaders had to have all the answers, but he’s learned that asking questions and being curious as a leader is invaluable. He looks at the holidays as an opportunity to be curious and asks questions individually and to his team. 

  • What holiday traditions or rituals are important to you?
  • Which days are big for you that you’ll need time off for? 
  • What do you do over the holidays and with whom? 

Seek to understand and build a calendar for when people are engaged outside of work. The team as a whole can start to understand each other better. It gives people a more diverse understanding of what this season can mean. 

It’s very valuable and powerful when people step in to help others, but be mindful of people who always volunteer to do extra work. Look for opportunities to avoid resentment. Where does it build? Leaders need to ask, because people probably won’t volunteer those details.

Don’t Forget About Your Indirect Employees

The family and loved ones of your actual employees are what Jeff and Richard call indirect employees. If resentment builds up with a life partner or a child toward the company, you’re putting the employee in a difficult place. 

Seek to understand what’s important to them and their family. You want someone at home who loves the company and the manager. If the employee even thinks about exploring other opportunities, the person at home says, what in the heck? Why would you leave this amazing place? 

You have an opportunity to engage your indirect employees and let them know you value them and their family’s mental health as much as you value your employee. How can we be a blessing instead of a burden to our team’s families? How can we win them over through genuine care and authenticity and sensitivity? 

Look for ways to make the holidays a better time for everyone. Ask: “Who wants to be home for their family for the holidays for once? Let’s create a new date to meet our goals.” 

You Have the Power to Change Your Mindset

Deadlines are often about our own mindset. We can change this. What would need to happen for us to take the last two weeks of the year off? What’s important to your team members? How can they set really meaningful goals and get rewarded when they meet them? Let them challenge themselves and their peers. Reward them in a deep and meaningful way. That’s what Q4 should be about. We have to meet our goals. We have to support the customer. What needs to happen so we can do that? And also take time off?

Jeff believes Americans culturally have an issue. We don’t know when to turn off and let the creative functions of our brains really take over. European culture has this rejuvenation figured out. He says there’s something to be learned from a culture that knows how to rest and when to rest, knows how to prioritize, a culture that works to live, not lives to work. We have some things backward that create burnout, fatigue, fear, and scarcity. We can’t become the best versions of ourselves.

Ask yourself honestly: what are my fixed beliefs? What are my biases? What would need to be true for you to meet your goals at work and spend time with your family? How do we prioritize the things that are truly important and will be a force multiplier? What can we do that takes less time and has more impact and is more energizing? 

Richard and Jeff challenge you to figure this out for yourself and everyone who reports to your company. Do it this year. Try and fail. Acknowledge what went well and what didn’t. If you better your best, you won’t stop growing. If you make this holiday season feel different, if you make your people and their families feel important, you’ll build trust and loyalty. Don’t miss this opportunity.

Richard and Jeff want to hear from YOU. Was something in today’s episode a big aha moment for you? Anything you disagreed with? What did you learn that you’ve applied to your leadership? Email them here with your thoughts/questions: 


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