Being indispensable may seem like a good idea; and it can be if your main focus is job security. But the leader who finds comfort in being indispensable is one who finds it difficult to give up control. Ironically, it’s our love affair with certainty that creates one of the most definitive roadblocks to long-term success. Leadership is much different than having a job.
People who report to an ‘indispensable’ boss or owner always lean towards being codependent – they are perfectly comfortable being “managed”. In this environment people learn how not to solve problems on their own; they can only be productive to the extent they depend on the leader for answers, conveniently insulating themselves from responsibility. Good employees on the other hand, fight for autonomy, and when it is denied they either shut down or flee.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Successful leaders learn how to give up control while maintaining order. Mobilizing a group of people to become ultra-productive is always a function of a leader’s ability to get out of his or her own way and help people achieve their highest potential. To do that is one simple decision away – decide to become reproducible instead of indispensable!
If you are like most entrepreneurial leaders, your focus is always on productivity – what needs done next? Where is our next big initiative? What are we missing? How can we do better? It’s part of your DNA to go outside of the box to find new opportunities in a quest to gain more business and referrals. What would it be like if all of your people employed that same kind of mindset, day in and day out?
The leader’s job is to reproduce that DNA throughout the organization. Consider how counterproductive it is to be perceived as the one with all of the answers. Empowering people to solve their own problems and contribute their best ideas and efforts likely mirrors your own best thinking. To reproduce it cultivates something new, healthy and alive – a culture of productivity and collaboration!
If you really want to be effective and see your construction company soar, the first step is to consider how you can incrementally remove yourself from the daily activities and ultimately, allow your organization to function productively without you!
A leader’s job is to multiply a mindset of productivity!
Consider these steps for shifting your mindset to one of reproducible leadership:
I. Most people, in spite of an appearance of comfort with co-dependence, welcome the opportunity and challenge of working independently, trusted to make good decisions and to do the right thing! So invite them to the party! Create space for people to be valuable and significant – contributing their intellectual capital, experience and talents in a safe environment where there are no bad questions or suggestions.
Having regular bi-weekly staff meetings is a great start. And if you anticipate or experience a lot of silence in the first few meetings, don’t worry! Just persevere. People need some space to adjust to this new approach. They will need to see tangible proof before they trust the system.
II. Spend quality one-one time with them, learning their inmost dreams, hopes and fears. Nothing builds trust faster. And when there is trust, people tend to be much more willing to contribute voluntarily vs holding back and remaining safe.
Ask questions and let them know that your organization is a place for them to realize their highest potential and achieve their dreams. Think about how impactful a question like “Are you the kind of person who will come to me with a problem or do I need to ask you?” can be, especially for someone who has never experienced this kind of inclusive leadership.
III. Map out a path to successful outcomes and coach or mentor them to get there. No matter whether it’s a new hire or a long-time staffer, people all want to know that someone cares enough to help them succeed. At Legacy, we advocate our “30-60-90-day metrics” method for creating engagement and contribution from every employee.
A simple process, but one that accelerates productivity and, most important of all, reproduces the DNA of self-leadership in a way that becomes very tangible very quickly.
How do you need to show up today as a leader? What steps can you take to reproduce your leadership and actually become dispensable? Success may be waiting for you to get out of your own way.