This week, Steve Jobs announced his third medical leave from Apple Computer, the company he’s led to a string of successes and a stock market sparkler. Jobs’ reputation as a visionary anticipator of consumer tastes is also sky high.
For more middling managers, taking time off for an illness could be harder – and certainly will generate fewer headlines. People who are “at the top of their game” have more latitude to take a long leave or delegate much of their job, if needed, said Rosalind Joffe, a Boston-area career coach specializing in people with chronic illnesses. She has had multiple sclerosis for 30 years and other chronic conditions. “Most people can be replaced,” she said, though federal law provides some protections during a Family and Medical Leave Act break or under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Joffe’s best advice for those without Jobs’ stellar reputation is to keep working as much as you are able to – and know that the engagement can be good for you. Stay on as long as your health allows, but be attuned so you know when to let go. So how do you know when you should take off time for illness? Joffe suggests asking yourself these three questions: