Why Leaders Should Make Themselves Replaceable

by Pranav Ramesh
July 23, 2020
Importance of leadership succession planning

It may sound like something that goes against the natural instincts of a leader, but career growth only happens when others can grow as well. A true leader is always going to ensure that they work towards becoming replaceable. This does not equate to being perceived as incompetent.

The core concept is to ensure that your business is able to run efficiently without you. This means that anything you are doing for the business should be transferrable for someone else to continue in case you step away or move up.

There are many situations when people decide not to disclose any of their strategies and activities because they are afraid of being replaced. It takes a great leader to be able to let go of that fear, but it’s that very confidence that leads to their success. They believe in the skills that they have and their ability to add value to every step up on the corporate ladder.

On the other hand, people who dwell exclusively on their own skills are more likely to feel very protective of the position they have and they will be adamantly against any possibility of being replaceable at their job.

The Sabbatical question

A great way of knowing if you have been doing a good job at replacing yourself is to consider the sabbatical scenario. Ask yourself what you would need to teach to someone else in order to be able to leave your job for 6 to 12 months and have someone else take over your duties.

There is a good chance that you are going to feel overwhelmed by the number of things you would need to teach your replacement. If this is the case, it means that you have been doing all you can to seem irreplaceable, and there is a good chance you have been doing this unintentionally.

“It’s in an employer’s best interest to educate his team because the better they get, the better the company gets” – Nick Shah, CEO, Peterson Technology Partners

A good leader shows others how to get the job done

If you are confident in your ability to grow and evolve, you will focus some of your energy on showing others how to do your job and their job.

Don’t forget that your entire team is going to benefit from this and you will continue to rise on the corporate ladder due to your strong leadership skills.

“Having those mentors that I could reach out to and say what would you do in this situation? That played a critical role for me throughout my career” – Rick Merrick, CIO, TCS Education System

As Rick stated, a leader should be there to give advice to those who need it. He felt that this was truly essential for his success and his ability to continue to grow as a professional.

“One of the major lessons I learned was that I should to ask for help when I am in over my head. I was too worried and too concerned that people would think I didn’t know what I was doing” – Rick Merrick, CIO, TCS Education System

A great leader is always going to be open to ask for help. This is never seen as a negative aspect of leadership. We all grow and evolve by learning from others, and no one has so much knowledge that they can’t learn from others. Showing your vulnerabilities and your need to learn new things is an admirable trait of a great leader.

“I’m prepping the next generation of people that are coming into the company. I’m hoping that they can take the role I currently play and be successful at it” – Nick Shah, CEO, Peterson Technology Partners

RELATED: Do You Really Want to Lead? Or Do You Just Want the Raise and Title?


Final thoughts

Leadership and success in any line of work comes from the approach of mentoring others to teach them to be efficient at what you do, and this is going to allow you to remove yourself from that situation in favor of a different position that helps you grow and evolve. On your journey, maybe one day you will be sitting in the C-Suite.

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