Leadership Truth: You’re Not as Indispensible as You Think!

May 15, 2017   //   by Gail Barker   //   Previous Blog Posts  //  No Comments

Leadership Truth: You’re Not as Indispensible as You Think!

“Just a second, I HAVE to respond to this message.”

“Hold on, I have to take this call.”

“Sorry, I just need to check in on my team.”

Variations on any and all of these statements are something I hear a LOT in the leadership realm. Those who hold leadership roles often seem to drop out of conversations, put personal tasks on hold, defer appointments or projects – whether of a personal or professional nature – to deal with whatever the latest “urgent” request is.

Somebody has a question. A new staff member doesn’t know what to do. This person just needs you for a moment. You know the sorts of things I’m talking about.

As a leader, you’ve probably found yourself doing a version of these actions as recently as today. There’s a way that you have been made to feel – either by yourself or by those around you – utterly indispensible.

After all, leaders are essential to the success of any team, right?

Well here’s what I want you to know: while leaders are essential to the success of any team, this does not mean that YOU are indispensible. Leadership can happen from anywhere, by anyone, which means that YOU yourself are not all that essential. You’re not nearly as important as you might think you are. In fact, your team can actually function without you.

You’ve just got to give them a chance to do so.

You’re actually not doing your team any favours by being at their beck and call.

There’s a huge difference between being available when needed, and never letting go of the reins.  The difference lies in drawing and maintaining clear boundaries.

In other words, there’s merit and wisdom in saying things like the following:

“When I’m in my office and my door is open, I’m happy to answer any questions.”

“I respond to emails between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon.”

“I don’t respond to work-related texts after hours – unless it’s an emergency.”

“When I’m on vacation, _____________ will be answering all questions, not me.”

When you don’t set clear boundaries, when you drop everything to address every problem yourself the minute a problem arises, when you don’t empower your team to solve problems on their own you’re not leading. Instead, you’re managing, and moreover, you’re doing so in a way that doesn’t actually foster effective outcomes.

The bottom-line is this: you are not as indispensible as you think. Yes, you want to be an effective leader, thereby contributing to your team’s success. If, however, you’re translating this into never being able to walk away from your phone/computer/office without a sense that you’re somehow out of the loop, you’re no longer leading, you’re controlling. And you’re doing so at the expense of your own leadership well-being.

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