The Traveling Leader
The thrill of looking out the airplane window long ago disappeared. It seems like all the fun has gone out of traveling by air, and now what we can look forward to is getting off the plane as soon as possible. But many leaders have to travel. Leading a geographically dispersed team can involve frequent air or land travel. Here’s some ideas on how to travel and lead well.
Limit your overnight travel when your children are young. The demands of parenting when the kids are young are such that frequent overnight travel can be overwhelming for the parent left behind. As Kingdom leaders need reminding that our greatest contribution and lasting legacy can be through our children (and grandchildren).
Help the family celebrate your trip with special events while you’re away. When you do travel, seek to make it a special occasion with special treats and activities if possible. That way, your leaving can become something to look forward to, not something to dread.
Be all there when you return home. Remember, the trip ends the day after you return. You’ve been away serving others, giving yourself wholeheartedly to them. And now you return home and need to recharge and catch up on what’s happened while you’ve been away. If not careful this can lead to a passivity at home when you return or a distractedness, instead of continuing that servanthood and applying it to your spouse and children who have been anxiously waiting for your return.
Take notes to remember key observations and experiences and debrief with your spouse when you return from a trip. With today’s technology you can keep current in most places through phone, texting, or email. Be intentional about keeping your lives integrated and not separate. But realize that the level a detail shared depends upon your spouse’s desire and perhaps confidentiality issues.
For longer trips be wise in how tightly you fill the days. As a general rule consider breaking the days into three parts – morning, afternoon, and evening. Schedule two of the three parts and keep one part open for recharge and personal time. Schedule breaks within your trips so that you can take an entire day off for some mental or physical activity that you find refreshing.
Take a To Be Read file with you on a trip. I’m often sent articles or resources recommended for me to read. I’ll print them out and place them into a To Be Read file that goes with me when I travel. As I read, I toss and lighten the load in my briefcase.
Traveling well is an art and requires you to know yourself well. What makes you most effective when you are out of your routine at home? You and your family are paying a large price to travel so you will want optimize this effort. Don’t waste this opportunity nor neglect your family responsibilities either. Be wise!