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Can a CEO or founder ever really take a break from work?

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Ben Lipschitz, CEO and co-founder of FoodByUsponders the benefits to his business when he finally allowed himself to take a decent break from work after six years without a real vacation.

As the leader of a fast-growing and fast-growing tech startup, you accept that it is a role that requires a lot of your focus and attention. If you really want your business to thrive, you must also be committed to bringing in the “founding energy” – the hunger for success, the boundless inspiration and sense of purpose that feeds everyone else on your team.

On holiday? No chance!

At least that’s what I thought until recently, when I finally took the plunge and took a few weeks off; the longest I’ve done since co-founding FoodByUs in 2016.

My worries about taking time off were never about my faith in the team; in fact just the opposite. However, as a founder, you are always ‘on’, always thinking, always wanting to be available if someone or something needs you. Taking a break just doesn’t really play a role in your thinking.

So when I returned after my break I was pleasantly surprised at what the result was, both personally and for the wider team in general.

Benefits of a real break from work

Taking that time-out allowed me to clear my head and step back from the deep immersion in day-to-day business.

Most founders and CEOs are quite driven individuals. However, it is important to recognize that it is difficult to maintain that energy level indefinitely. At best, you may begin to lose focus or strategic vision. In the worst case scenario, you will become a less effective leader or even burn out. Either way, it’s not good for the business or your own health and well-being.

Still, the idea of ​​taking time off — whether it’s an afternoon here or there, or a real vacation break — can be an incredible challenge, especially for leaders who take pride in embodying the dedicated work ethic they seek to inspire on their team. .

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be over-thought, and with a little planning and preparation, it can become a positive milestone in the life of the company.

Taking a break not only gave me new energy as a co-founder and CEO to ensure I can continue to energize my founder every day; it has improved our overall performance by enabling our teams to become more robust and independent.

Trust, responsibility and performance have all improved, because if you remove yourself as CEO, the team has no choice but to figure things out on their own – and that’s where pride and confidence comes from.

When I got back from vacation, I asked my team about their biggest learning experience in my absence, hoping to learn from their insights and gain their perspective on how the company worked. All feedback was the same: “You should go on vacation more often; we’ve got you covered!”

Woman waves to colleagues when she leaves the office

How do you get to this point?

By building the business every day to operate effectively without you.

This starts at the level of an organizational chart and responsibilities, but ends with having clear systems and processes in place for all the things the company needs to function effectively. Whether it’s financial approvals or hiring processes – leaving will mean that even when you’re back, you’ll have less to tinker with.

Do you have senior leaders in the company who can lead their staff and also work in a team? Are people empowered to make decisions, or does everything flow straight to the top? The more established your organization, the more important it becomes to entrust the people around you to take on additional workload and decision-making. To the point that if you got out, you’d hardly be missed.

At FoodByUs we invest in a culture of constant skills and leadership training, including graduate-level hiring with a dedicated accelerated development program and challenging employees to learn and progress into senior roles. This is not only good for their career development, but also ensures that we are exceptionally well positioned to absorb important absences. Including me, it turns out.

Trust is contagious

I have several direct reports and they provide leadership training to their own teams, but also work closely with me on their own development. They know my management and communication style and my expectations, so that in my absence I can have complete confidence that the matter is in safe hands.

In practice, that means that I can not only take a break, but also turn off the phone and laptop and enjoy a holiday to the fullest, instead of feeling like I have to check in every day.

Speaking of trust, that’s something I’ve noticed in the office since my return. A little extra empowerment moves everyone and it is believed that we are now a more robust and sustainable operation that can cover any absence.

My next vacation will certainly not be as long in coming as the previous one, and I will approach it with confidence that it will be a win-win scenario for everyone.

This article, written by FoodByUs CEO and Co-Founder, Ben Lipschitz, originally appeared on: Kochie’s Business Builders and is republished with permission.

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