When you think about qualities that make a good leader, what comes to mind might be decisiveness, self-awareness, or even compassion –– but one unexpected quality of a good leader is the ability to simply pause and take a break. When you take time to reset and recharge, you’re more likely to maintain perspective, handle stress better, and problem-solve more easily. “The science tells us that when you walk away from something and take a break, the subconscious is still working,” Mitchell Lee Marks, Ph.D., emeritus professor of leadership at the SF State University College of Business and president of Joiningforces.org, tells Thrive. “If you’re stuck on a crossword puzzle and you put it down and come back to it, suddenly that clue makes sense. That’s because your brain is still churning.” 

Marks says that, as a manager, being able to step away from certain projects or interactions to reset  –– even if just for a couple minutes — can make you a better communicator and a better leader. “There’s power in doing something that doesn’t require much brain power for a bit,” he adds. “Get a little sunshine, get a cup of coffee, or go check in with people.”

Here are four reasons why taking breaks can make you a more effective leader:

A break is a psychological reset.

We know that breaks help us reset during a busy day, and if you’re a leader, you’re not immune to the exhaustion and burnout that comes from powering through without taking time to recharge. “If you’re overwhelmed and you’re looking at a pile of stuff and it looks like there’s no end, you may need a reset,” Marks says. “Whether you are taking a minute to meditate, go for a walk, or take a nap, anything to just walk away and come back is quite valuable and psychologically resetting.”

Breaks can help you deliver better feedback.

Giving feedback is an important part of leadership, and if you’re in back-to-back calls all day without taking time to pause in between, you might deliver feedback in a way you’ll end up regretting. Especially if you’re frustrated with a project’s outcome or a missed deadline, taking some time to walk away and refocus before delivering feedback can help you speak clearly and calmly. “By default, your communication will improve because you won’t have that intense tone,” Marks explains. “Instead of exploding and criticizing someone without thinking it through, you can reframe and calmly ask, ‘What happened?’” 

Your actions influence your teammates’ actions.

Marks says that, as a leader, you act as a role model for your team, so your actions set the tone for how your teammates operate. And if you’re heads down for hours without a break, you’re setting that expectation for the rest of your team. “Leaders have different cultures,” he says. “If you have a ‘work hard, play hard’ culture, you’re going to be showing people that it must be okay to not take time for yourself.” So if you’re considering skipping your next vacation or working late into the night, think about the impact it’s having on your team culture, and how you’re being viewed as the team lead.

Taking a break can help shift your perspective.

If you’re feeling stuck or frustrated, taking a step back can be exactly what you need to reframe your perspective before interacting with others. Marks suggests writing down what you’re feeling and what you want to say first. And if you’re sending an email, try drafting it and then coming back to it later before you hit send. “Write down what you want to say, and then rethink it and come back to it,” he says. “You will probably end up eliminating some exaggerations, or deciding not to send the email altogether.” When we can put in words what we want to say and let our thoughts ruminate, we come back with a new mindset –– and as a leader, gaining that perspective can be incredibly valuable.