Why Leaders Can Take Vacations, Even Us Americans

It’s August. Europe is on holiday. I’m just back from a week+ vacation myself. While away, I came across this article explaining why Europeans are better at taking vacations than Americans.  This should not be news to anyone. In fact, I’d say most everyone is better at taking time off than those of us in the states.

The article talks about lack of job security, stronger unions and our messed up cultural norms about working being the primary reasons we suck at relaxing.

While there are elements of truth to those examples, I’d pin it back on being a leader. Leadership is why I can take more than a few days off and not freak out. Here’s why:

My team: A leader hires a kick-ass team, demonstrates productive behavior and then gives the authority to make decisions. My team gets stuff done, with or without me. That doesn’t make me insecure; it makes me a genius.

My perspective:  I know what has to get done while I’m away, and I know how to ask others to do it. I work hard before I leave, I set clear expectations and then I trust others to do what they say they’ll do. As a leader, I have to get out of the way every now and then. Give people space to deliver. I also have to give people space to fail and be ok with the results.

My choice: Although I’ve never lived in Europe, I honestly don’t think I’d work or vacation differently than I already do. I like clearing out email. I am at peace when I don’t see a red circled number next to my mail app. My husband has over 600 unread (mainly junk) emails and could care less. I, on the other hand, get anxious just looking at that number on his phone! It’s my choice. It’s my way of relaxing. It doesn’t mean I’m spending hours on vacation dealing with work (see points above), but it does mean I’m reducing self-imposed stress by simply deleting crap a couple of times a day.

Lastly, a leader has to have a sense of humor to enjoy time away. Otherwise the 4-hour delay (thanks United) with a 3-year old could cause me to never want to take a vacation in the first place!

Clark Griswold:  There’s Buckingham Palace, kids.  hat’s where the Queen lives and works.

Audrey Griswold: Works? What does she do, Dad?

Clark Griswold:  She queens… and vacuums.

FOT Background Check

Kathy Rapp
Kathy Rapp is the President of hrQ, where she helps companies find groovy HR Talent or HR Consultants to drive business results.  Prior to joining hrQ, Kathy booked more than 15 years of human resources leadership experience working for such companies as Morgan Stanley and First Data Corporation.  A connoisseur of the intersection between pop culture and business, Kathy believes many talent issues can be addressed via the succession planning lessons experienced by Van Halen  (David Lee/Sammy and sadly, Gary Cherone).


  1. Excellent article. Keep writing such kind of information on your blog. Im really impressed by your site.

Trackbacks for this post

  1. #HRBuzz: Learning Steals the Spotlight in August - SumTotal Blog
  2. How to Drive Employee Engagement - SumTotal Blog
  3. Why Leaders Can Take Vacations, Even Us Americans - openreq

Comments are now closed for this article.

Contact Us | Hire FOT to Speak | About FOT