What does summer mean to you? For a good part of our early lives summer probably meant longer days with a well-earned break from school. Although the summer break goes away for most of us with adulthood there is still for many a sense that summer “feels” different than the rest of the year. Even as adults our minds go to the possibility of extended hours of sunlight when we get home, a couple of long weekends around Memorial Day and Labor Day, a trip to see family, and maybe even a vacation. This peculiar type of restlessness can also set into our workdays. We notice the pretty weather and desire to get out and experience it. Have you considered there are ways we can use this orientation we have around the summer season to stretch and grow your own leadership? Let’s look at some ways we can use this natural disruption to create some opportunities to grow.
- Enrichment Reading-An important part of growing as a leader is reading. “Leaders are readers” is a truism you may have heard before. Over the course of the year, those who are leaders should be looking to keep up with reading subjects pertinent to their areas of influence. With summer it can be beneficial to possibly change the mindset from what “should” I be reading to what do I “get” to read. What are some areas you enjoy reading about that are a little more on the fringe of the priority list? For example, there might be some biographies or events that can inform your work more broadly than some of the more specific works you might normally read. Think less specific competency improvement reading and more along the lines of what enriches you. A good practice of this can even help to cut down on some of the reading burnout we can experience upon reading so much consistently on the same subject.
- Summer Reading Club-The age-old idea of a summer reading club can also apply to your work. Are there books that might benefit the group you lead or even some of those you mentor? How about reading through it together through the summer? One can take a nice pace and look to have a meet-up over lunch every week or two and talk about the latest assigned chapter(s). The level of your direct leadership needed is very low, simply facilitating the conversation and letting people contribute can be a wonderful and beneficial shared experience for both you and the entire group.
- Fellowship or Get-Togethers-The nice summer weather can be very inviting for us to join. Can you create some moments for your team to get together? It might be something organized such as a cook-out or a day at the park to meet up. It might be more intentional times to slip away with some or all of your team to grab an iced coffee and sit outside for a few moments during the workday. The school routine we grew up with that has summer off creates an intrinsic need within us to “break the script” of routine in the summer months. What opportunities can you take with your team to break through the norms and add some energy to their routines during the summer months? They will enjoy the break and you will as well.
- Vacation-This should be a no-brainer, but we all need the reminded of the following truth. Time away from work is important and vital to being able to perform our best. Time away does not simply mean time physically away, it means time mentally away as well. Our minds and mental health need to break away from the stresses inherent to work. This means no work texts, calls, or emails. This takes some work on the front end in being proactive to let people know you will be unavailable. Talk to those with whom you interact the most and let them know you will be out so that they will be less likely to accidentally disturb you. Turn on the autoresponder on your email that states you are out and when you will be back. This step will help you worry less about who is waiting on you. It can be very tempting to “pop” in and check your messages but try to avoid it and give your mind a true break from work at some point in the summer.
Use the summer season as a time to reinvigorate yourself and try some fresh approaches. It won’t be too long before the seasons change and the dreariness of winter sets into our rhythm. Take the opportunity to get some free Vitamin D, break some routines, and let the summer refresh your perspective and your leadership.