Are You Prepared for the Shift?
On Tuesday the 18th of December 2018, the tables seemed to have suddenly turned for United’s “Special One.” As Manchester United dispensed with José Mourinho’s services after two-and-a-half years, media and the football fraternity did not only take time out to look back at the highs and lows of his time in charge, but were immediately speculating on who could replace him. This is life. Life with its curve balls, entrances and exits. Stylish exit or not, and whether you are let go or you leave on your own, there is an impact. Of course, conventional wisdom says that everyone is replaceable. That may still be true, but the critical question is: how prepared are you for the shift?
Nature Abhors a Vacuum
The idea that you should be replaceable in your position is often negatively misinterpreted, but making sure you are replaceable actually promotes personal and team growth, whilst helping you become a stronger leader. The best thing you can do is let go of where you are and embrace where you are going. With all that said, the fact is that churn is such a huge part of nature! Our world is based on transition and change. Changing jobs is an integral part of your career path. When people move around, society benefits from knowledge sharing and new alliances that lead to great new ideas. Remixing is good for both individuals and organisations, so there is no way that churn will ever stop. The idea is to create an organization where intelligent, forward-thinking people want to work, find out who excels where, and shift additional responsibilities onto their plate to give them opportunities to grow, which in the end, benefits both the leaders and their teams. In creating these shifts, it often opens space to introduce additional people to the team with specific expertise.
Safe havens for slackers are rapidly diminishing, because they are losing out to smarter, more agile, and faster competition. The point is that whatever job you have now, the world can replace what you do or find an alternative without missing a beat. Nature abhors a vacuum. If what you did was valuable and awesome, someone else will learn to do it because humans are relentless in their quest for advancement.
Check your ego at the door.
If you’re in a position of power within any organisation, there’s one thing that needs to be checked at the office door: ego. Admitting that someone else may perform your role better than you can be difficult, but acknowledging this goes a long way. If you’re constantly pushing that you’re the most qualified person to take on every task, making sure no one else can do your job, you’re stunting your own growth and that of your colleagues. Learn to shed the responsibilities that you’ve been collecting to build your own profile. Replace yourself to the point where you can deliver what you’re best at and keep learning and contributing, rather than slowing down those around you. Being transparent about your abilities and organisation’s needs, while giving someone with the right knowledge the chance to excel frees up time for your own professional development. This opportunity to explore and find out where else you could make a difference as a leader is invaluable.
Make proactive growth a priority
While employee growth is a top priority, the best leaders know their own professional evolution is extremely important. To be an effective leader you have to recognize that there’s always room for improvement. Leaders shouldn’t allow themselves to get complacent, but rather, evolve with the growing business and inevitable challenges that come with innovation. Constantly ask yourself what you need to learn, how you can improve and what comes next – in a sense, you should be growing yourself out of your current role every six to twelve months by building upon your responsibilities and setting new goals.
You are Replaceable
If you’re great at your job, it means you’re replaceable, and that’s a good thing. You should strive to be replaceable; it’s how an organisation grows. There’s a negative perception around what it means to be “replaceable” in the workplace — it might sound like you don’t have job security, or that you’re leaving the company – however, the fact is that being replaceable means emphasizing learning and growth, and is the key to fostering a positive work culture with a healthy path for career progression and innovation. In an ideal business world, we’re operating in an environment where we, and our colleagues, are constantly growing and receive opportunities to learn new skills to prepare for the next step in our careers. In this sense, the most successful leaders are ensuring they are replaceable. This doesn’t mean they’re no longer useful, it means they fully utilize and support their teams to complete initiatives at the highest quality and enable their future career growth. The better we are at our jobs, the more important it is to have someone even better than us. People with world class experience who can do parts of your job better than you allow you to free up some of your time that could be spent developing creative ideas, innovative solutions and working towards the next way to make greater impact for your organisation.
Create Something Meaningful
Be careful how you align with the argument that you should keep working until you are old because you owe something to the world. Work because what you do is meaningful to you and brings you joy. If your job doesn’t do this, then work just long enough to become financially independent and go do something that does bring you joy. If you really hate your job, then consider looking for another opportunity where you can create something meaningful. Life is too short.
Do you find yourself worried of being replaced? Do you think you are replaceable? To worry about being replaced is to be worried about the wrong things. Your focus should be progress oriented as you constantly prepare yourself for the shift which can come any day.