Male sick sitting on couch

Take leave and stay home when you're sick

How stepping back can help empower teams and fuel growth

Written by Dr. Shaun Ridley FAIM
2 minute read
Male sick sitting on couch

Taking annual leave has a host of obvious benefits to the person taking the leave. These benefits are multiplied many times over when you consider the positive impact of your leave on those left behind.

This is not to suggest those others are celebrating your absence, but your decision to take a substantial block of leave provides an ideal development opportunity for your direct reports.

The longer your leave, the more difficult it is for others to wait until you return for a decision to be made.

It forces others to make decisions, take accountability for the business outcomes, manage staff, customers and suppliers, and build relationships with other parts of the organisation.

Each of these provides an opportunity for others to gain an understanding of your role, the complexities of a more senior position and to build greater knowledge and skill.

Some leaders choose to either avoid taking leave or to take it in very small increments of a day or two at a time, to block others from seeing what really happens in their job or out of fear that someone will take over their position.

Similar reasons are given by leaders who refuse to stay home when they are sick. They may perpetuate the myth that they are indispensable and cannot possibly be away for a single day.

Sick leave is a legitimate allowance in employment contracts to ensure the health and wellbeing of employees.

It also helps reduce the spread of illnesses in the workplace which would otherwise cause even greater absenteeism and lost productivity.

If you are genuinely unwell, then do yourself and your colleagues a favour and stay home.

One more small step in the next 24 hours

Plan to use all your annual leave, every year. If possible, try to take it in a single block of time.

In the weeks leading up to your departure, try to develop those in your team who will need to step up and take ownership of key projects or tasks in your absence.

Express confidence in their abilities and reassure them it will be a great development opportunity. Ask other leaders to check in on your team to provide support and advice if required.

Finally, resist the temptation to check and respond to your electronic communications throughout your holiday break.

You’ll ruin your holiday for yourself and your family and you’ll ruin the development opportunity your absence may have provided.