Summertime Leadership

In the winter of 2017, I moved to Sweden to work for a Swedish company. Every expat experiences culture shock, but my most eye opening moments would come in the summer of 2018 as the team around me began to disappear into what is simply called “Swedish Summer.”

As an overworked American, I had never seen anything like it. The office was a ghost town as people disappeared for weeks on end. Forget building stuff, just having enough engineers to run production support on key systems was tricky. It was definitely good for me to see a different environment and different culture…even if I could never fully adapt.

*Here’s a good blog post on the reason for long summer holidays in Sweden.

I firmly believe in rest and sunshine (and oceans/lakes/rivers if you can find one). So over the years I adapted my expectations a bit as the weather warmed up and the team got distracted by dreams of islands, boating trips, and camping.

As the summer season approaches, many leaders may find themselves facing unique challenges and opportunities. Whether you’re managing a team remotely or in-person, here are some tips for effective leadership in summertime.

  1. Encourage work-life balance: During the summer, people want to take time off, be with the kids, and enjoy the warm weather. As a leader, it’s important to encourage your team members to prioritize their well-being and take time off when needed. Ultimately you are doing yourself a favor because these breaks can help prevent burnout and increase productivity in the long run.
  2. Set clear expectations: Summer can be a busy time for many businesses. Some can’t afford weeks with no feature delivery, but you need to make sure that you plan for summer holidays and make sure you don’t make promises the team can’t meet.
  3. Emphasize flexibility: Listen, we know we can still get work done remotely at this point. We learned that the hard way. With more people taking vacations and enjoying the outdoors, it’s important to be flexible with scheduling and work arrangements. Consider offering flexible hours or remote work options to accommodate your team members’ needs.
  4. Foster team building: Summer is a great time to build a stronger relationships within your team. Consider organizing a team outing or social event to help your team members bond and recharge. (Just don’t crash any boats. I’m looking at you Belen!! Haha!)
  5. Lead by example: Finally, remember that the behavior you show will often be mirrored in your team. If you don’t take breaks, they will feel guilty when they do and their holidays will be less effective in combating stress. Set a positive example by taking time off when needed, prioritizing work-life balance, and demonstrating a commitment to your team’s success.

Lastly remember that we all need key elements to survive…Oxygen, Sleep, Water, Sunshine. Summer is a great time to be reminded of this! So get outside and enjoy the day!

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