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Can the CEO ever really take a break or are they always on duty? The CEO is at the pinnacle of the organization and is solely accountable to the board of directors for the entire operations of the organization. For example, think of the CEO of the International Red Cross who has delegates around the world, many in harm's way. Given the nature of his work, he's committed to being available anytime of the day or night, anytime of the year. This is an extreme scenario, but for any CEO, if something significant goes wrong - the worst-case scenario a fatality - he or she has to be available.

A Burnt-Out CEO Does No Good for Anyone

I'm a firm believer that everyone - especially CEOs - needs to make time to recharge and re-energize. For some people, that means a day or two off: for others, it might mean a full two weeks or even more away from their desks. The point is, we can't work to the best of our ability if we're constantly drained. And when a person isn't working effectively, they might be doing more harm than good to the organization. Therefore, it's in everyone's best interest to allow the top leadership a guilt-free vacation where they can relax and disconnect in order to return to work with more energy and enthusiasm.

When the CEO Is Away: Organizational "Maintenance Mode"

So how should an organization plan for a CEO's vacation? There needs to be a capable individual with the proper authority to make decisions while the CEO is away. This individual should not be expected to implement new strategies, but he or she should have the capabilities to keep things in "maintenance mode" so operations run smoothly in the CEO's absence. The individual should have the authority to make critical decisions and sign documents, and the capability to use his or her judgment to decide if and when the CEO needs to be notified about something, or indeed brought back.

When a CEO is empowered to disconnect from the office, the emails, phone calls, and day-to-day decision making that is part and parcel of their job, they are more effective, productive and positive upon their return - which benefits the organization as a whole. During the times that the CEO is away, appoint an interim leader to keep the organization in "maintenance mode" who has the capability to make decisions, good judgment and the appropriate authority to keep the organization operating smoothly. This minimizes the disruption for employees and ensures the CEO is only disturbed for major emergencies during their hard-earned time of rejuvenation.


Larry Hart

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