Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for November, 2007

Engage and lead—but don’t forget to include

Here’s a strategy that you may see as common sense. But in the midst of our high demands, aggressive deadlines, and our well-intentioned outreach to individuals in our organization, we may sometimes forget.

If you’re leading a multi-tiered organization, and you’re someone who personally engages your team at all levels, that’s great. However, if communications—or more specifically delegation or directives—tend to take place between you and a team or individual who reports to one of your direct reports, be sure to include your direct report in the process.

Best practice will have you making every effort to get input from your direct report/manager prior to delegating or providing directives to his or her employee or team (i.e., to establish bandwidth/availability of the individual or team and your action’s impact on manager’s or team’s goals; to provide clarity about your outreach to avoid any perceived threat; to demonstrate your respect for your manager’s role).

At the very least, keeping your direct report in the loop about your action-oriented communications with his or her staff, will contribute to trusting working relationships and cohesiveness among your teams—all of which will undoubtedly generate more of the business results you’re striving for.

To unplug or not to unplug

Just got back from a needed and restful vacation. Arizona mountains, family, girlfriends, horseback riding in the open desert. It was great. And, I managed to remain totally unplugged for seven days. I set up my email to auto respond and my voice mail to state an expectation of a returned call upon my return to the office. And although it was rough preparing for the week away, and coming home to a week’s worth of communications, it was well worth the break.

What I find interesting is that it seems our business culture, primarily based on technology, is shifting as it relates to being totally unavailable when we’re on vacation. Our US business culture already has its problems according to research done by, in that the US is the country with the fewest vacation days, second only to Mexico who offers just 6 days. So, at the very least in my opinion, we need to take a true break from our work while we’re on vacation!

My advice to leaders—As difficult as it may be, if you are able to unplug totally on vacation, do it. Not only will you feel more rested and energized when you return to work, you and your loved ones will receive the attention you and they deserve, and you’ll also set a standard and serve as a role model to those who work with and for you. Your example will serve as a small yet meaningful contribution to the well-being of your team.