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4 Tips for Leading While Absent - Connected Conversations

Leadership Blog

My leadership blog is all about helping current and emerging leaders learn how to transform difficult conversations and dysfunctional workplace relationships into positive and productive ones.

Brie Barker

4 Tips for Leading While Absent

by | Leadership


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It hasn’t been the best of times around the Barker household this week:

/

Number 1
/
On Sunday, my 11-year old son came down with a fever, a fairly severe headache and a stiff neck./
/
I’ve been home with him, as he’s been off school all week, and Advil and Tylenol have had a tough time keeping his symptoms fully at bay./
/
Our doctor’s advised us to keep an eye out for any additional symptoms that are related to meningitis (as a stiff neck is) and, if his fever and headache aren’t gone by this afternoon, we’re to take him to the ER for further assessment.

/

Number 2
/
On Tuesday, my 81 year-old father had a seizure and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital./
/
Thankfully, a battery of tests revealed nothing of further concern./
/
He was drained by the time I got him home that night but by Thursday he was back to his normal self.
/
Needless to say, we remain pretty concerned, not knowing why it happened and hoping it won’t happen again.

/

Number 3
/
Then, since yesterday, perhaps not surprisingly, I haven’t been feeling all that great.
/
I’ve got an intermittent sore throat, low energy and I’m feeling overtired.

//

“So what does all this have to do with leadership, Brie?”

/

Well, I don’t have a staff to lead and manage … but I’m going to assume that you do.

/

Now, imagine that you’ve had a week like I’ve had.
/
Actually, you probably don’t have to imagine all that much; I’m sure you’ve had similar weeks in your life.

/

Here are some thoughts on how you can demonstrate good leadership when circumstances call for you be away from work in order to care for your family — and for yourself.

/


/

1.  Actually STAY away from work and attend to your family.

/

If you try to do both, you’ll have a split focus and probably won’t do a very good job of either one.

/

Staying away sends important messages to your staff, that you:

/

  • trust them as a team and as individuals to step-up and look after things while you’re away, and
  • believe attending to urgent and exceptional family and personal matters is at least equally, if not more important, than work.
/
This is a chance to model the behaviour that you’d want your staff to demonstrate in similar circumstances.

/


/

2.  Be candid with your staff.

/

Let your staff know what’s calling you to be away.  Again, this is modelling the behaviour you’d want from your staff.

/

Now, we all have different comfort levels in sharing this type of information.
/
If sharing this kind of thing makes you uncomfortable, all the more reason to be open.
/
This is a place where you can stretch and grow as a leader, to put what’s best for your team and organization above your own personal discomfort.
/
If you share these things, it will help staff members who share your preference for privacy feel more comfortable opening up to you.
/
You can also expect to receive some empathy from your staff.  The situation provides a conduit for strengthening the human connection.  All you need to do is receive and acknowledge it with gratitude.
/

/

3.  Provide direction where necessary.

/
Give specific direction to staff on what to do in your absence — but only what’s necessary, i.e. don’t micromanage.
/
For example, you may want to have certain people look after specific things, whether it be a task or just keeping an eye on something.
/
Unless there’s a compelling reason to communicate these things in a private email, lay it out for the whole group.
/
This way everyone’s aware of who’s doing what — efforts will not be duplicated and people will know who to go to for what while you’re away.
/

/

4.  Set communication protocols.

/
Set things up so your don’t even see emails or receive phone calls that don’t TRULY require your immediate attention.
/
Have one of your staff members monitor and filter these things.
/
Give them a list of people and/or subject matters that you know will require an immediate response from only you — these are the only items that should be forwarded to you while you’re away.
/
Entrust this person to forward additional items outside of this list that they deem urgent.
/
This, too, reinforces your trust in your staff and will help you keep your focus on what you’re attending to at home.
/

/

I hope this reinforces the notion that you have the opportunity to demonstrate good leadership even when you’re away from the office and attending to the well-being of you and your family.

/
Have a productive and enjoyable day!
/
— Brie

/

/

Blog Post

4 Tips for Leading While Absent

by | Leadership


/
It hasn’t been the best of times around the Barker household this week:

/

Number 1
/
On Sunday, my 11-year old son came down with a fever, a fairly severe headache and a stiff neck./
/
I’ve been home with him, as he’s been off school all week, and Advil and Tylenol have had a tough time keeping his symptoms fully at bay./
/
Our doctor’s advised us to keep an eye out for any additional symptoms that are related to meningitis (as a stiff neck is) and, if his fever and headache aren’t gone by this afternoon, we’re to take him to the ER for further assessment.

/

Number 2
/
On Tuesday, my 81 year-old father had a seizure and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital./
/
Thankfully, a battery of tests revealed nothing of further concern./
/
He was drained by the time I got him home that night but by Thursday he was back to his normal self.
/
Needless to say, we remain pretty concerned, not knowing why it happened and hoping it won’t happen again.

/

Number 3
/
Then, since yesterday, perhaps not surprisingly, I haven’t been feeling all that great.
/
I’ve got an intermittent sore throat, low energy and I’m feeling overtired.

//

“So what does all this have to do with leadership, Brie?”

/

Well, I don’t have a staff to lead and manage … but I’m going to assume that you do.

/

Now, imagine that you’ve had a week like I’ve had.
/
Actually, you probably don’t have to imagine all that much; I’m sure you’ve had similar weeks in your life.

/

Here are some thoughts on how you can demonstrate good leadership when circumstances call for you be away from work in order to care for your family — and for yourself.

/


/

1.  Actually STAY away from work and attend to your family.

/

If you try to do both, you’ll have a split focus and probably won’t do a very good job of either one.

/

Staying away sends important messages to your staff, that you:

/

  • trust them as a team and as individuals to step-up and look after things while you’re away, and
  • believe attending to urgent and exceptional family and personal matters is at least equally, if not more important, than work.
/
This is a chance to model the behaviour that you’d want your staff to demonstrate in similar circumstances.

/


/

2.  Be candid with your staff.

/

Let your staff know what’s calling you to be away.  Again, this is modelling the behaviour you’d want from your staff.

/

Now, we all have different comfort levels in sharing this type of information.
/
If sharing this kind of thing makes you uncomfortable, all the more reason to be open.
/
This is a place where you can stretch and grow as a leader, to put what’s best for your team and organization above your own personal discomfort.
/
If you share these things, it will help staff members who share your preference for privacy feel more comfortable opening up to you.
/
You can also expect to receive some empathy from your staff.  The situation provides a conduit for strengthening the human connection.  All you need to do is receive and acknowledge it with gratitude.
/

/

3.  Provide direction where necessary.

/
Give specific direction to staff on what to do in your absence — but only what’s necessary, i.e. don’t micromanage.
/
For example, you may want to have certain people look after specific things, whether it be a task or just keeping an eye on something.
/
Unless there’s a compelling reason to communicate these things in a private email, lay it out for the whole group.
/
This way everyone’s aware of who’s doing what — efforts will not be duplicated and people will know who to go to for what while you’re away.
/

/

4.  Set communication protocols.

/
Set things up so your don’t even see emails or receive phone calls that don’t TRULY require your immediate attention.
/
Have one of your staff members monitor and filter these things.
/
Give them a list of people and/or subject matters that you know will require an immediate response from only you — these are the only items that should be forwarded to you while you’re away.
/
Entrust this person to forward additional items outside of this list that they deem urgent.
/
This, too, reinforces your trust in your staff and will help you keep your focus on what you’re attending to at home.
/

/

I hope this reinforces the notion that you have the opportunity to demonstrate good leadership even when you’re away from the office and attending to the well-being of you and your family.

/
Have a productive and enjoyable day!
/
— Brie

/

/
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