You are not indispensable. Whether by choice (yours or someone else’s), ages or fate, there will be a point in time when you are no longer leading your organization. Given that reality, and assuming you are truly committed to your agency’s long-term success, I would like to suggest that it is a stewardship responsibility for you to build a foundation for what’s next — starting now.
How? By building other leaders within your organization, giving them opportunities to stretch and grow beyond their comfort zones while you are still there to provide guidance and support. Yes, they will stub their toes in ways you wouldn’t — at least not today. I would guess however, if your memory is good enough, you can recall many times you stubbed your toe on the way to your current state of wisdom. Give your people that same opportunity.
Yes, I know that sounds good in theory… but… you’re ultimately accountable for the outcome (yep), you are already overwhelmed by the number of things on your to-do list (true), your staff is too, (probably) and besides, if they start taking on additional leadership responsibilities, what will you do? (Hmmm…) Okay, let’s start at the top:
• Yes, you are ultimately responsible for the outcomes of your organization. That does not mean that you alone have to lead those efforts. In fact, if everything has to run through you, you limit the potential of what your organization can accomplish. Give your staff some room to bring their best thinking to the challenge at hand. They might approach it differently than you would, but different isn’t wrong. Different opens the door to new possibilities.
• Manage your to-do list – don’t let it manage you. Look at the mix of long-term vs. short-term tasks on your list. If most of them relate to the crisis du jour, you are managing, not leading. Leaders focus on the important rather than falling victim to the urgent.
• Your people are no doubt busy, but have you talked to them about whether they feel the tasks that consume their time provide the organization the biggest bang for the buck? You might be surprised at 1) how enthused they might be to take on new challenges and 2) what tasks they could delegate or dispense with to do that.
• As for any concerns of what you might do once you have unleashed the other leaders within your organization, instead why not think of the new opportunities you will be able to pursue. Once you make yourself “dispensable” with what you are doing now, you open the door to pursuing exciting new opportunities — for you and your organization.
What will you do today to build the foundation for what’s next?