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Michael Useem
Scholar

Michael Useem

Michael Useem is Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

FedEx on the Beach

A first principle of leadership is to take care of yourself. This does not mean trampling over others or striving only for the bonus. It does mean making sure you are of sound mind and reasoned judgment. You can't lead others if inner-confidence and personal equanimity are in short supply.

Faced with intense pressures and unrelenting stress - imagine serving as an executive with Morgan Stanley, General Motors, or the Federal Reserve during the past twelve months, for example - leaders draw on a host of restorative devices, ranging from marathoning and mountain-biking to meditation and psychotherapy. To each, his or her own best form of personal diversion. Yet whatever the unique form of repair, we share one truly universal form: the annual vacation.

Thus, leave home without the plug. No netbook, no blackberry, no iPhone. Not even a vacation address. I can think of many examples of ruined vacations that came staying plugged in, like the banker, one of our summer-vacation neighbors, who reported he had left an emergency number with his New York office the prior year. "Never again," he said. Or I think of a friend who checked email after checking into one of the great resorts of the world - only to learn that he had just been served with a lawsuit.

Most of all, though, I remember a hot day in August on a remote beach of Nantucket, with surf crashing, sand castles rising, and families cherishing their carefree time together -- when a uniformed FedEx delivery person arrived, package in hand. We all shuddered, praying we were not the recipient.

By Michael Useem

 |  August 11, 2009; 10:44 AM ET
Category:  Leadership personalities Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: 'Kill' the Leader | Next: Get a Real Vacation

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Unplugging is a great concept, but people aspiring to success and power in a fast-paced business world are also aware that decisions made without you are decision made for you. Are you comfortable with that? Have you made your views known to the people who can present it for you? If so, unplug.

Posted by: royatkinson | August 11, 2009 2:10 PM
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