It’s exactly 5 p.m. on a weekday, and a stemless glass of Mouton Noir’s Horseshoes & Hand Grenades fits comfortably in my right hand. I’m at the local tap, where no drink sounds like a drink, waiting for a coworker-friend to join me for dinner. She’s the first colleague to initiate a get-together during my leave of absence.
I may have made too much of my separation from work. “You’ll make decisions together, without me. It’s an opportunity for everyone. No, I won’t be checking email.” I spelled out only a few reasons I want to be contacted about work and added, “Remember me for happy hours. I’m taking a leave from work, not from you guys!”
No one is indispensable, I’ve always believed. If I were in a coma for two months, people would figure out what what to do. But in the few times I’ve heard from work in these last few weeks, what was required of me was minimal and worthwhile. Relatively small efforts that probably made things much easier for us all.
Now that I have experience in this issue, I would like to revise my opinion on indispensability: The more influential the position or leader, the greater the negative consequences when cutting oneself completely off from work. Don’t our Presidents only take working vacations?
My leadership responsibilities are quite unlike the U.S. President’s. But I’m a long way from being in a coma, too. I think I’m in just the right spot.
Conclusion: I can feel good that I am valued at work and still enjoy an LOA because I am fortunate to have the right balance of 1) a high-performing team who can take over for me, and 2) leadership responsibilities and capabilities that, for some things, make my involvement necessary. As long as I am not in a coma.
Coming soon: the missing days.