That's right. I just got back from a one-month vacation in Sicily.
You may ask how I did this. Isn't hard to own a company and take time off? Don't you worry about everything going to heck while you're away?
Not for me.
Why? One thing: An awesome team.
The talent, skill, intelligence and commitment of the staff at Next Step is so strong that I didn't even flinch about leaving for a month. Each of their roles are clear. I trust them. And they don't need to be micromanaged anyway.
The results were unambiguous: We made our summer budget and also our September budget while I was away. My team is even throwing me a welcome-back lunch tomorrow! God, I love them. And I am very proud.
In "Good to Great," Jim Collins writes that one of the signs of a great company is that when the leader leaves, the company stays on track and doesn't falter. He writes that often leadership styles are based on gregarious, big egos and when this larger-than-life character leaves, the company's momentum (and profits) go down the tubes. So the company looks good for a while, but not great over the long term.
A friend asked me how I felt about the fact that the company did just fine without me. He was implying that my ego may have been bruised because I didn't feel "needed" anymore. I actually felt quite the opposite. I felt smart for hiring such great people that can run the show without me. Seems to me it's the sign of a good leader when he or she is surrounded by--and holds onto--A players.
It also woke me up to the fact that I am needed less and less for dealing with day-to-day details. My team does a great job with these. So I'm going to devote more time to growing the company with new ideas and direction.
And next time, maybe I'll take off two months!