This week it's London, Paris, and New York. Next you're in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong. To the outsider it all sounds very glamorous, but every CEO knows that traveling for work is far from a vacation. Living out of a suitcase, fighting jet-lag, and missing your family are all part of the gig. So while you're making sacrifices in order to make your business thrive, your team may be suffering as a result of your hectic travel schedule.
As the face of the company, it's your duty to secure strategic partnerships, meet with shareholders, and grow your client base. For those with international offices, sharing your time between each location adds even more pressure to your passport. What was once a quarterly trip has now become bi-weekly, taking you out of the workplace and on the road for weeks at a time.
All of this traveling takes a toll on your employees. It doesn't take long before staff start becoming frustrated that they can never get ahold of their CEO. Without your presence and real attention on an issue, communication is broken down, initiatives are put on pause, and your company's growth could come to a standstill.
So what if cutting back on travel is a non-negotiable? These pitfalls can be avoided if you have the right strategy in place -- even from 30,000 feet.
Drop the Superhero Title
It's okay to lose the cape and admit that you need to sleep in order to function. Trying to do it all is hard enough when you're standing in one place, let alone hopping between airports. Reviewing marketing strategies and sales reports after a 15 hour flight is not healthy for your business (or yourself).
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Cutting down on your responsibilities may seem scary at first, but soon you'll start seeing just how freeing it can become. The key to doing less is to trust your employees and empower them to make decisions without you. More importantly, you don't need to be the final authority on every little issue. Make it clear that you're the very last resort, and they have the ability to solve problems as a team.
Put the Right Leaders in Place
If you know that the amount you're traveling isn't decreasing anytime soon, hire or develop leaders that can run the ship without its captain. Then, leave them alone. While it's important to keep them accountable, checking on them multiple times a day is not giving them the autonomy your company needs to keep growing. Sit down with your staff at least once per quarter and check-in to see how they're feeling about the management and leadership team, then adjust accordingly.
Quit Making Promises You Can't Keep
Being overly optimistic may seem like an attribute, but when you're telling one office that you'll be back in two weeks and then don't show up, you've become untrustworthy. Overpromising and under-delivering is a dangerous combination that will set you on the path to fail quickly. Remember: you're not there to solve everyone's problems. Be realistic about your travel schedule and keep your reputation in tact.
Make Your Personal Life a Priority
A partner and parent that's always away is incredibly stressful. Constantly missing soccer games and school plays can take a toll on your relationships with your children and your spouse. When you're not traveling for work, you may be using that time to get caught up on everything you've missed. Resist this urge to bring work home, and instead make a conscious effort to be present. Schedule uninterrupted time with your kids and date nights with your spouse, leaving the phone at home and giving them your undivided attention.