September 15, 2023

In the hustle and bustle of the corporate world, leaders are often regarded as the pillars of guidance and direction. We envision them as indefatigable figures who are always at the forefront, steering the ship and rallying the troops. We expect our leaders to be all in, all the time. However, that simply is not the case. I know, it’s true. It seems that the higher the leader climbs in stature, the less we remember that they are people just like you and me. In fact, we forget that leaders also require moments of respite and introspection. (I know that I’m letting the cat out of the bag but you can’t unread what you have just read). Honestly, who doesn’t like moments of peace and tranquility? As leaders, we often talk about the importance of self-care, but how does a team function when their leader takes a step back? Yup! It’s a real thing that can happen at any time.
Navigating the Leader’s Hiatus
It’s natural for employees to feel a sense of uncertainty or unease when their leader takes a hiatus. After all, the leader’s presence often serves as a reassuring anchor. However, a hiatus can also present a valuable opportunity for employees to take ownership of their roles, contribute more autonomously, and build a culture of trust. It is important to note that a leader hiatus may occur with the original leader or the organization may be in transition because of succession planning and implementation. In either case, here’s how both leaders and employees can navigate this period of transition and growth:
Empowerment Through Preparedness
When a leader goes on hiatus, it’s essential that everyone is prepared for the transition. Forward-thinking leaders often have a plan in place for the next 90 days of action. This plan, when shared with the team, not only ensures a smooth continuation of operations but also provides a clear roadmap for employees to follow. Having a plan that everyone is either aware or has access to is like having a warm security blanket as a child, snugly. It puts your mind at ease and you believe that everything is going to be ok. Knowing that there’s a well-thought-out plan in place reduces uncertainty and empowers employees to carry out their responsibilities confidently. Now let’s discuss four steps to self-leadership that employees can embody during the absence of a leader.
Four Steps to Self-Leadership
**1. ** Clarity of Roles and Goals: A hiatus is an opportune time for employees to revisit their roles and goals. Clear communication regarding tasks, expectations, and priorities ensures that everyone is on the same page. Employees should proactively seek clarity on anything they’re uncertain about.
**2. ** Open Communication: A leader’s absence doesn’t mean the absence of communication. In fact, effective communication becomes even more critical. More importantly, do not wait until the leader goes on hiatus to fix any communication issues. Do this beforehand. Encourage open dialogues and regular check-ins among team members. Share updates, discuss challenges, and celebrate successes.
**3. ** Collaborative Decision-Making: Decision-making doesn’t solely rest on the leader’s shoulders. In their absence, employees should collaborate on decisions. (Another little secret – Leaders appreciate it when you take things off their plate, especially during their absence). And to ensure that doing so is possible, foster an environment where diverse perspectives are valued, and decisions are made collectively. Note that this type of behavior is beneficial to the organization’s culture and perceivability of the employees on several levels.
**4. ** Ownership and Accountability: This hiatus is a chance for employees to showcase their leadership potential. Encourage them to take ownership of their tasks, be accountable for outcomes, and proactively offer solutions to challenges.
Fostering Trust Through Empowerment
Leaders and decision makers, this is for you. A hiatus isn’t just about employees leading themselves; it’s also about leaders demonstrating trust in their team’s capabilities. Here’s how leaders can foster trust during their absence:
**1. ** Delegate Authority: Delegate authority to team members, allowing them to make decisions within their expertise. This not only empowers employees but also signals that you trust their judgment.
**2. ** Encourage Creativity: Invite employees to approach challenges with creativity and innovation. Give them the space to experiment and try new approaches.
**3. ** Provide Guidance, Not Micro-Management: If you’re accessible during your hiatus, be a guide rather than a micro-manager. Offer support and insights when needed, without stifling their independence.
**4. ** Celebrate Autonomy: When your team handles responsibilities effectively during your absence, celebrate their achievements. Acknowledge their autonomy and highlight their contributions.
Cultivating a Culture of Independence
In the end, fostering a culture where employees can lead even in the absence of their primary leader is a testament to effective leadership. And before you continue, read the previous sentence again. It indicates that a leader has not just focused on their own growth but has also nurtured the growth of their team. It’s a reflection of trust, empowerment, and collaboration.
Contact American Management and Leadership by Design
If you’re a leader looking to create a culture where your team can lead confidently with or without you, reach out to American Management and Leadership by Design. Our expertise lies in helping organizations build a strong leadership foundation, cultivate empowerment, and facilitate effective communication. Whether you’re a leader aiming to strengthen your team or an employee aspiring to lead, we’re here to support your journey.
Empowerment and Growth Await
Leadership isn’t just about leading when you’re present; it’s also about fostering leadership even in your absence. As leaders, we have the incredible opportunity to cultivate a culture where every team member feels capable, valued, and empowered. So, let’s embark on this journey of growth, together.

LeadWithTrust #EmpowermentInLeadership #TeamAutonomy #CultivatingLeadership #AMLDLeadership

For guidance in creating a leadership culture that thrives in all circumstances, contact us at American Management and Leadership by Design today. Your journey toward empowered leadership starts here.
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