Indispensable? Better think again…


falling_blocksIf you were hit by the proverbial bus while going to work tomorrow, how would your team go about getting the job done? Are you one of those leaders who like to think they are indispensable, and then acts to be sure that they are? Or are you a leader who prepares their people to function in their absence?

Recently one of our leadership students had to take an immediate and extended absence from work.  When I asked him how the team did in his absence his response was that life didn’t end without him. In fact, the team carried on quite well. I could tell this bothered him a little; after all, we all like to think we’d be missed. But at a less personal level I could also tell he was proud of the team for stepping up and covering for him in his absence.

What made the difference between continuity of operations or work-stoppage? In this case it was what the individual called “transparency in communications”. The team communicated frequently and shared enough information so that everyone was either in–the-loop or could easily access necessary information to prevent major issues.

I’ve listened to a growing number of personal leadership philosophies developed by our students in our Leadership Excellence Course. Many of them have included a statement that as a leader they will not tolerate individuals who play “I’ve got a secret” with professional knowledge. The point is clear; individuals who try to be indispensable are dispensable to their team because their priorities are wrong. A necessary ingredient to ensuring that no individual on the team is indispensable is a vested interest by everyone in the team’s success. Team’s with individuals, or leaders, who let their own needs or ego supersede the team’s needs, are less likely to cope well with the absence of a key player. This stands to reason, folks that focus on “what’s in it for me” are less likely to step in and cover for a missing team mate.

So, what would happen if you couldn’t show up to work tomorrow? Have you built a team of individuals vested in success? Have you built a culture where filling the gap will come naturally and easily to the rest of the team?

Note: In the example above my student’s team was able to set aside their individual needs and agendas and focus on what is best for the team. “Inattention to results” is the fifth dysfunction of a team. Individuals that trust one another, engage in healthy conflict, commit to decisions, and hold one another accountable (dysfunctions 1 – 4) are far more likely to be able to put the team’s needs in front of their own. If you are interested in building this type of culture in your teams, The Daedalus Group can conduct several different types of The Five Dysfunctions of Team workshops to fit your needs. See additional information HERE


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