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The CEO’s Guide to Sabbaticals

How to take extended time off as a leader

In August, Vice Media's chief people officer, Daisy Auger-Domínguez, ended the internal email announcing her departure from the company by saying that was going on a "radical sabbatical." She has since described her prolonged time out from the business world as "rejuvenating," but not everyone in the C-suite feels so able to take extended leave.

It’s particularly rare for a CEO to go on sabbatical, for instance. The leader, usually the public face of their company, is accountable to the board of directors and shareholders, carrying the can for all key business decisions. Given the weighty responsibilities of the role, it would seem hard for the holder to justify taking much more than a couple of weeks off at a time.

"There's still a lot of stigma attached to taking an extended break as a CEO," said Ben Bryant, professor of leadership and organisation at the International Institute for Management Development, Lausanne. "People will interpret that move in different ways. Some may think it's an admission that the leader can no longer cope with their workload. They may see it as a sign of weakness."

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