Young leaders between empathy and control: how much “no” needs to be?

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Monday morning and the first sentence I heard that day was "Henryk, we have a little problem!". Two of my employees had booked vacations at the same time without coordinating. How to react correctly in this situation?

occupations pictures

Here writes for you:

Henryk Lüderitz luederitzHenryk Lüderitz was among other young leaders at Vodafone and is now independent coach.


Planning your vacation to your taste? - "Not with me!"

My two employees were visibly upset in my office door. In itself, the situation would have been completely unproblematic, the two would not have been the representation of each other. An absolute no-go! Good advice was expensive now.

As a leader, a balanced combination of trust and empathy on the one hand and elbow engagement and control on the other is important. Especially sensitive topics such as holiday planning are usually not a relaxed self-running, but can become a serious problem.

No-say shows profile

It is in the nature of man to constantly test boundaries. This is good to observe, for example, in children: they irritate boundaries until parents react.

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So what do you do in such a case as a superior? If there are clear rules on holiday planning, it is up to the management to enforce them. Of course, it would be the easier solution to give both employees the holiday and to provide replacement.

exceptions prove the rule

But in such a situation it is important to say “no” and to show your profile. This is the only way that superiors are taken seriously.

Of course, it is important for executives in individual cases to consider whether they will not grant a leave request. For example, if the holiday is just a day or an unexpected incident in the family, empathy is certainly the drug of choice.

Consequence is a necessary basis

If limits and rules are deliberately ignored, enforcement is required. The following procedure has proven itself in practice:

  1. Make sure that the affected employees themselves are looking for a solution - not you as a superior. Self-induced and self-solving problems are not your job!
  2. In a later discussion, ask how the faux pas could come. As a leader, it is important to check whether it was just a foolish coincidence or that there are greater tensions between employees.
  3. Contact Teammeeting briefly and inquire whether everyone agrees with the existing rules. If there is disagreement, it is up to you to react.
  4. Have courage to delegate! Have employees create a shared vacation plan that everyone can access. This is particularly useful if the Team very large or spread over several sites.
  5. No matter which rules apply to leave and leave, you as a manager determine the basic conditions and justify them. Within this framework, the employees can then develop and propose their own rules - participation and own ideas increase the acceptance.

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  1. Alice

    Especially young executives have big problems with this topic, I know that from my own experience. Super-Post!

  2. Nora Derksen

    Again and again I see young executives fail, they should take this post to heart.

  3. Elsa bisaillon

    Great contribution, I also agree with what concerns the inexperience of many executives, keep it up.

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