LEADERS MAKE THEMSELVES VALUABLE, NOT IRREPLACEABLE
Years ago, when I was a young leader, I strived to hone my skills and my knowledge so that no Dean at Georgetown Law Center would dare replace me with someone else. At my retirement party, people spoke about how almost impossible it would be for someone to replace me. The younger me would have appreciated those kind words. The older and wiser me responded with a rueful smile
No good leader should ever groom himself or herself to be irreplaceable. That is a dangerous path upon which to walk.
I remember many years ago a famous general counsel of a Fortune 100 Company told me this: “One of the general counsel‘s most critical jobs is to start seeking out his or her successor their first day on the job. “
The best leaders do not focus on making themselves irreplaceable. Rather, they focus on becoming great team leaders.
This means they focus on developing the skills and knowledge of their teammates. Inevitably, some of these teammates will leave for bigger and better jobs elsewhere.
That is just part of the process. We can feel happy for our teammates who accept more responsible positions at other organizations. We want to help them grow, and sometimes that growth will take place at new and exciting jobs,
There are dangers in our trying to be irreplaceable:
-Feeling irreplaceable can give us a false sense of security
-Striving to become irreplaceable can alienate us from our teammates
-People who strive to be irreplaceable tend to hoard their knowledge or skills, not a good thing for the organization
-When we focus on making ourselves irreplaceable, we inevitably ignore helping our teammates help themselves
-Leaders who strive to be irreplaceable frequently lack a succession plan
-A focus on being a irreplaceable can help us get stuck right where we are in the organization and in our careers
So as you continue on your own leadership journey, please strive to be a teaching leader who helps everyone grow and forget about ever being irreplaceable!