What would you say should be a leader’s primary goal?
To serve their organization?
To always be improving?
To develop their people?
Of course, all of these are important. A leader’s foremost responsibility is to their people, and to better serve their people, a leader must always be growing themselves. And at the end of the day, the organization benefits when everyone improves.
But I believe a leader’s primary goal should be to become completely dispensable. To me, that is the mark of leadership well done.
Business leadership is a bit funny that way. It is backwards to how many people approach their role.
Often, people focus on becoming so good at their job that they are completely irreplaceable. After all, if the company would be lost without you, you have great job security – or at the very least, great leverage.
But this is not how authentic leadership is measured. How can we say we have equipped anyone if we were to leave and the day-to-day falls apart?
Leadership well-effected leaves the leader completely dispensable – because when you are dispensable, you have served your organization, improved yourself, and developed your people.
You have empowered your team to rely on themselves; you have freed up your own time to focus on your areas of strength; and in accomplishing those, you have achieved something great for your organization.
This was my primary focus when I entered my first leadership position in 2011.
I loved leading so much, I was already wondering how I could spend all of my time casting vision, expanding my capacity, and walking up the leadership ladder – so I began delegating.
This started off rough. I assumed my whole team wanted to step forward and learn new tasks, but not everyone is motivated by their career.
Instead, there were a key select few who wanted to progress, to expand their scope, and I honored their ambition with decision-making authority. If they had a concern, they would come to me and we talked through the problem together.
But instead of advising them, I asked them: “How would you handle this?” And most often, I was glad I asked because they had a better idea than I did! All I had to do, then, was put the solution into the bigger picture perspective.
Within two years, those key few could run the team and they wouldn’t even miss me.
Eventually, I was even able to spend two weeks training out of the country during a big project, with no access to the team at all. No emails in or out, and no calls either.
When I returned, I found the project right on schedule – and they hadn’t needed any help from other departments while I was away.
It was the ultimate test, and they had passed with flying colors. I had come back pleased, proud, and ready to help them develop even further because of the focus I could put into my training.
Does your team support you as you support them in your zone of strength?
When you perform your role this week, take some time to observe. Pay attention to how, what, when, and if you delegate. Reflect upon these prompts and brainstorm how you can lead your people to self-sufficiency.
1. Do you believe in your people?
The main reason someone holds onto responsibility unnecessarily is doubt. Do you trust your team to step up to the challenge? Have you given your team the chance to prove that they are capable?
2. Where do you excel in empowering your people?
Whom have you empowered to take on new roles and complete new tasks? How have they affirmed your trust in your team?
3. Where do you struggle with entrusting responsibility to your people?
What are the tasks that you don’t necessarily have to be the one to do, but you do anyway? What is keeping you from delegating these tasks?
That’s all for now.
Until next time,
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