As A Leader You Need To Be There. Or Be Nice.

Do you ever receive one of those automated email replies that tells you that the person you have sent the email to is out of their office for a couple of days?

When I receive one of these replies it is usually as a response to me sending them a weekly blog email…it’s a reply to something that I have sent them that’s not that urgent to reply to.

It’s nice to think how respectful these people are to let me know that they’re not at their computer… and that’s because in this day and age there is an expectation that an ordinary business email does deserve a response within twenty four hours or so.

I always reply to all business emails with a

“thanks [NAME]”

reply, just to let the sender know that I received their email, and that I appreciate them.

And I know sometimes in years gone past when I was jetting off overseas, that it became difficult to send and receive emails [while flying Qantas at least] while flying, but usually sending a reply once I had landed and settled at my hotel was sufficient and OK for the sender.

So interestingly, in the week before Christmas, I sent an email that received a very bazaar reply. Well, in my opinion anyway.

You see, I’d been doing some negotiations during the preceding couple of weeks that I had thought were completed. But at the last minute I was advised that I needed further confirmation from someone of higher authority.

So I sent this person of higher authority an email.

I received no reply from this person. So I assumed they must have been very busy.

The next day, I received an unsolicited email from this person about another unrelated matter, with no mention of my correspondence the previous day.

So I replied to this person of higher authority, as to whether they had seen my email from the day before, only to receive an automated email along these lines:


“Thank you for your email. I’ve finished up work now for a few weeks of downtime over the festive season. I hope you’re getting a break too. I look forward to doing business with you in 2023! Have a great day.

Kind regards



Now maybe this person of higher authority had not been given a brief that I was going to be needing their confirmation about my important actions.

And maybe I may have been at fault for not making contact with this person sooner [although I was not aware of this protocol]…

But despite all of those things, I believe that a person in a leadership role needs to have some degree of accessibility for important “situations” that may arise.

Kind of like the PM of Australia going on a holiday to Hawaii during the bushfires of 2019…. probably should have not done that.

Anyway, if you feel that you need to tell people you’re going to be away from your desk, I kind of think that it might be wise not to rub it in their face, that you’re off partying, especially when they might wish to be partying, but have had to choose not to…

It’s like the train carriage conversation in the first chapter of the Steven Covey book…. sometimes it’s necessary to be circumspect about the possible states of mind of the people who will be receiving your message.

I often say:

“Before offering a humorous comment, be sure that the recipient of that comment is indeed ready to receive that humour.”

I’ve not always said this. It’s a realisation I’ve come to during my advancing years.

The spoken word, or the written word, is very difficult to retract.

It is much easier to manage the words you never said, and never wrote.

And of course, if you are in a position where those you lead will be needing you, then you need to be mindful of that responsibility. And being available, or being seen to be available, is important.


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