When you’re the leader, you’re busy all the time. To you, “vacation” is a four-letter word that roughly translates to “time that would be better spent working.”

What would you say, though, if I told you that taking a break now and then actually makes you a better leader? Everyday managerial decisions don’t build great leaders — new experiences do. To be a leader who consistently redefines what it means to be the best (a 10 out of 10), you must seek out and embrace new experiences.

Vacations aren’t shameful wastes of time; they are opportunities to recharge your mind and discover new ways of thinking to help you grow your business.

How Vacations Make Better Leaders

When you take a vacation (not a “staycation”), you introduce a new environment that facilitates new ideas and stimulates old ones in new ways.

My favorite vacation environment is one where little to nothing is happening. I’m cool with relaxing on a beach, hearing the ocean, and reading a book with a notepad nearby. Some of my friends who also own businesses need more structured environments: biking in the morning, lunch at noon, yoga in the evening, etc.

Vacation means different things to different people. You don’t have to follow someone else’s plan; you just have to enjoy your new environment and leave the day-to-day operations of your business behind for a little while.

Get the Most From Your Vacation

You can’t take a “halfcation” and expect to learn anything about your business that you didn’t already know. Unplug from your phone for a little while, enjoy the fresh air, and take these steps to get the most out of your vacation:

1. Pick your stand-in.

It’s easier to relax when you know the person in charge back home can do a good job. Having a trusted advocate in place allows you to relax and clear your mind while he or she deals with the daily challenges of running a business.

When you pick your right-hand partner, pick someone you can place complete confidence in. Otherwise, you’ll spend your whole vacation worrying about whether your replacement is up to the task — something you should know before you leave.

2. Trust your system.

It’s easy to forget, but your employees want to prove their worth, and your absence provides them a great opportunity to do so. Set up a system of check-ins — once per day or per week, depending on your individual time frames. Then, give your people the chance to shine without your immediate guidance.

When you take your vacation, make sure your employees know they can take their time as well. Studies show that companies with employees who use their time off perform better than those who don’t.

3. Schedule nothing.

Turn off anything that resembles an alarm clock. Buy a journal and write in it; get some books and read them; visit a site you’ve never seen before, and don’t give yourself a deadline for when to leave. Absorb inspiration from the moment and from the people around you.

4. Be present.

If you’re at the office via your smartphone, it doesn’t matter whether you’re on your lunch break or halfway around the world. You won’t change anything at your company unless you commit to changing your personal environment, at least for a little while.

People expect leaders to be more than managers — they expect them to be visionaries, to discover new possibilities for improvements, and to set the tone on how to pursue changes. A top leader must remain energized in both body and mind to make the most of his or her opportunities.

Don’t be afraid of vacations, and don’t worry about all of the work you might miss. Instead, think of them as opportunities to revisit the inspiration that got you where you are today, and use your time away to discover and explore new horizons.