We tend to believe that if we stay important, at least in perception and hold on to the things we do that normally make us feel important, we become invaluable to our business and organization. This leads to many interesting and unhealthy behaviors – including holding on to information without sharing openly, reluctance to collaborate, unwillingness to share resources, making others feel insecure, and controlling or micromanaging. We continue to move on superficially without self reflection, personal growth and reach a stage where our egos and fears prevent us from stepping out of our comfort zones – until a major change inevitably hits us and forces us to rethink.
It may be surprising to hear and sometimes hard to accept but making yourself irrelevant will make you more valuable to the business and yourself as a leader and human being.
What does ‘making yourself irrelevant’ mean?
This means empowering and enabling team members to take up some of your important responsibilities and more. This does not mean stepping away from your leadership responsibilities or not managing. This also does not mean dropping your troubles and issues on others. Rather, this is about transitioning your role to leading, developing, transitioning from being a possessive individual contributor to focusing on high impact areas for organizational success today and in the future.
Why is this important?
You create more opportunities for team members to continuously stretch, learn and grow. You create more space for yourself and the organization for reflection, insight and action.
How can you as a leader start in this journey?
Let go of few elements that you’re currently doing for your team members. Take a step back, let them own those elements and drive them. Coach, support them and provide constant feedback and recognition. Be patient through the process and reflect on the learning together. Encourage your members to take on more challenges afterward. Constantly build confidence. Invite members to join key conversations and discussions. Let them feel included. In most cases, your team members will step up, be happy and grateful for the opportunities to do more impactful work.
As a result, you’ll create more space for yourself as a leader to reflect, do more impactful work, innovate and explore untapped areas in personal and organizational effectiveness. You’ll create opportunities for others to grow and do more meaningful work. The extra space created will help stretch your thinking. During the initial phase, it is normal to feel uncomfortable and insecure as you let go of perceived important elements or activities. Self-compassion is important. You’ll become more agile and adaptable to change from both the individual and organizational perspectives. The business and organization will gain tremendously. You will be respected as someone who can build more leaders and leadership in your organization.
Doing this successfully and developing this capability as a manager or leader will bring you more (many times bigger) opportunities within your organization. More talented individuals will want to join your team. If not, there will be other great opportunities waiting outside.