“Why are you leaving? Can’t you stay as our manager?”
“My job here is done, it’s time for me to move on.” He replied
“But I don’t understand, you’re loved and respected and you are doing a great job with us, why move on?”
“Darcey, my role here is to make myself redundant. It is to give you the skills and knowledge necessary to function without me, to get the job done better than I could ever do it myself. I know, and can see, that I’ve accomplished this with our team.”
This lesson in leadership fundamentally changed how I managed and lead my teams. My role was no longer about being indispensable to the company, having a competitive advantage over others and knowing that they can’t get rid of me because no one can do my job better than I.
My attitude shifted to one of giving, sharing and collaborating. Ensuring that everyone had the skills and knowledge necessary to absolutely own their roles. It allowed the team autonomy, responsibility, accountability and ultimately a sense of freedom to do what needed to be done to get the job done right.
Let’s not be mistaken. This was not an overnight transition. It took time. And I invested in a lot of learning and training on the fly with my team and encouraging them to self-learn. We previously existed in an environment where people would come to me and ask questions about tricky situations to which I would give them the solution and a clear set of instructions as to how to carry it out. Now, instead of giving them the solution, I coached them to the answer, giving them the ability to ascertain the solution themselves.
I moved my team from being dependent on me to independence. It was about self-leadership. The ability to think and respond for themselves.
This was the lesson that I was taught by my leader, to give them everything that is needed to eliminate yourself from the equation and have the team still exceed business expectations.
Some people reading this may ask why put yourself out of a job? Well you’re not. You’re freeing up your time and resources to concentrate on moving the business unit forward. You get to start focusing on how you can grow the business or how you are going to achieve your next milestone. It is the secret to allowing you to focus on the direction and future of the business and even yourself.
Consider your business. How dependent are your people on you? What would happen if you taught them self-leadership? What impact would that make on your business?