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Afraid to Take a Day Off? Leadership Must Appoint a Time-Off Manager

Updated: Apr 5

“Only I can handle the clients.” “The office would fall apart without me.” “I am married to the office.” Sound familiar? If management utters any of these phrases, trouble is brewing for the company. Working too many hours, failing to delegate authority to others, and ditching the vacation days leads to burnout and resentment.

If you are a company owner or in a leadership position, the reality is that you can take a vacation. Pew Research revealed that more than half of workers in the U.S. do not utilize all their earned paid time-off days. Unfortunately, many strong leaders place themselves in a situation where taking any time off becomes untenable. Why? They fail to train anyone to do their job. In failing to empower others on their staff, they drag the company downward and cause internal stagnation.

Great Leaders Delegate Authority to Help Others Learn to Lead

Great managers and strong leaders do not martyr themselves. True leaders also do not consistently work to the point of mental (and physical) exhaustion and burnout. This is how a company begins to falter, and its weaknesses start to show.

The best companies start with one inspirational and visionary leader. Microsoft began with Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos started Amazon, and Elon Musk founded Tesla and SpaceX. Bill Gates now focuses on his foundations, Bezos is often photographed on vacations, and Elon Musk finds time to converse on Twitter (and buy the company).

While Musk has been known to sleep on the floor of his office, even he knows when he needs a break. The companies helmed by billionaires are so large they require many leaders. Amazon would not be the marketplace giant it is today if Bezos had led the company under the belief that he alone could steer it to success.

What makes your company successful? If you think it’s one manager or one individual, you would be incorrect. The team you build creates success. Every manager needs one person on whom they can rely if they need to leave the office for a vacation, a family emergency, or a personal illness.

The Chain of Command: How to Find the Leaders on the Team

Leaders who feel that they cannot take a break, that the office will fall apart without them, or that no one can handle their responsibilities are absolutely correct. If managers have failed to train anyone else, empower another staff member, or to train individuals to lead instead of follow, then they are alone in their leadership role. Unfortunately, this is a setup for failure.

Today, it is time to begin a transition and a transformation for the health of the company. Leaders must train others to lead. When leaders need to seek out other leaders in their organization, they need to determine the individual who is up for the challenge and the responsibility. Delegating authority and extending leadership responsibilities is a matter of trust.

Who is the most trusted individual? Who is the best choice to lead the company and make important decisions?

Seek the Leaders and See Their Potential

Look closely at other staff members. Determine who can lead, who can handle more responsibility, and who best encapsulates the mission and values of the company. Identifying the leaders takes time. Once managers and principals find the most trustworthy, hardworking, and knowledgeable team members, leadership must teach them how to lead and manage difficult situations.

Empower Your Leaders Through Training and Shadowing

Leaders can lead only if they are prepared for the role. When managers and owners identify the strongest leaders in their company, they need to begin to prepare them for their management role. Few people can jump into a position and succeed without guidance; training and shadowing prepare an individual for the decisions and responsibilities they might face when stepping in for managers and top-level decision-makers.

Manuals and SOP documents serve as guides for those moving into new roles. Create an SOP or a manual that outlines responsibilities and expectations. Allow individuals to shadow top leadership for a week and give new leaders opportunities to learn through daily experiences

(and difficult trials). Challenge them to help solve client concerns or problems; guide them during the process.

Time Off Management: Why is PTO Important?

In Europe, long vacations and many days of paid time off are the norm for employees. The U.S. lags behind many other countries in prioritizing vacation time. A Pew Research poll found that employees fail to take their earned time off for many reasons, including 16 percent who noted that they worried about losing their job (if they took their PTO). More than 10 percent reported that their manager frowned upon employees taking time off.

Management and company owners set a precedent for others in the company. If the leaders are working without a break, this becomes the norm. However, it is an unhealthy and unsustainable norm for the entire team.

When burnout and fatigue set in, employees will set their sights on other opportunities and companies that offer more balance. Meanwhile, managers and owners who feel that working 24/7 remains the only sustainable choice could find that they are suddenly without much support.

Leadership sets the example. What example is your leadership setting for the team? If leadership is without a vacation manager, and if PTO is a liability instead of a benefit, pivot towards a more positive change. Seek out leaders who can step into crucial roles when owners and managers take a break; encourage team members to use their time off, too.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a study titled “Vacation’s Impact on the Workforce” in partnership with the U.S. Travel Association (who also commissined the survey). More than 75 percent of HR professionals surveyed noted that employees who used their vacation time were more productive, and three out of four HR pros agreed (or strongly agreed) that these individuals perform better, too.

Managers and company owners are no exception. Vacation time allows everyone to decompress, destress and feel more relaxed and ready to tackle tough job situations. Now is the time to take control of an out-of-control workload; find the leaders in your company, and begin to delegate authority. Martyrdom in the corporate culture is not an asset; it is a liability that leads to mistakes, failures, and, ultimately, unsustainable burnout.

How Business Consulting from Tabetha Helps Entrepreneurs Succeed

The Entrepreneurial Operating System® is a proven system that helps businesses clarify, simplify and achieve their vision.

An EOS Implementer like Tabetha helps business owners build a strong foundation for their business to grow on top by implementing the key principles: strategy, execution, and control. Tabetha will guide you through every step of the implementation process to help your business goals, ideas, and plans come to fruition.

What are you waiting for? Schedule a call with Tabetha Sheaver today. She has the insights and years of experience to help take your business in a new direction.


Tabetha Sheaver is a CEO, executive coaching specialist, project management professional (PMI), and an award-winning business success partner. She helps CEOs regain control of their companies with organizational change management strategies. While helping entrepreneurial leadership teams to be open, honest, and healthy, Tabetha’s experience and insight have made her an in-demand public speaker and presenter nationwide.

Tabetha Sheaver


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