Making Yourself Redundant is a Superpower
A few weeks ago, I met Rajesh Sawhney, a very dear friend and a leading angel investor in India. During our conversation, I remarked that the ability to make oneself redundant is a superpower. He ended up tweeting it and I ended up thinking more about it!
If there is one superpower that all leaders could consider inculcating in themselves and in their leaders, it is the power to make oneself redundant. Doing this in your current role is an important step towards taking on new responsibilities, challenges, projects and eventually moving up the ladder.
Surprisingly, more often than not, we do exactly the opposite. We find it tough to let go and think that a way to grow in the company is by making yourself indispensable (quite the opposite of redundant). In fact in my conversations with several high potential leaders, I have realised that many of them spend a significant amount of time doing the jobs that can be delegated and much less time on coaching or mentorship which can prepare their teams to take larger responsibilities while they take on larger roles.
For instance in one of my previous roles, I worked with a high performing customer support manager. They were amazing at their work and were soon promoted to lead the support function. Ironically, they continued to stay involved in day to day tactical activities because they found it tough to let go of that part of their previous role. I had to remind them many times to delegate this task to their team and take up more strategic tasks. Once that switch happened, the value they provided to the organization grew multifold.
A Redundant You = A Stronger Team
In order to make a strong team, you need to empower them. One of the first steps towards this is to make yourself redundant. This also helps you to create mental space for yourself. It doesn’t only mean growth for your team but also opens up opportunities for your own personal growth.
One of my ex colleagues built an incredible team. While they hired very strong leaders, they did not step back enough to empower their leaders to lead from the front. When I asked them why they would not give enough space to their leaders, they would get genuinely surprised because they thought they were being helpful to the team by continuing to lead from the front. Finally, a few of their direct reports resigned citing lack of empowerment. This led to a realization in my ex-colleague that they would have to really work hard on stepping back and setting up their leaders to lead from the front and take risks, while keeping a close check during the process of empowering the teams.
So leaders — focus on making yourself redundant. Make your team capable of managing itself, while you continue to support them from the sidelines.
How Can You Make Yourself Redundant?
TLDR: Build self-managing teams.
Here are some tips that can help you do this effortlessly:
Be comfortable to let go: This is the first step and perhaps the most difficult one. You need to learn to let go and trust your team with the work that matters to you. Once you are comfortable with this step, everything else will fall into place.
Hire top notch talent: Hiring the right people is another way of building that trust. If your team is right, you will find it easier to delegate responsibilities to them.
Step back to provide mentorship, watch out for failure points: Coaching and mentorship become very important to prepare your team to take larger responsibilities. But remember, while they take up these responsibilities, do watch out for any failure points - “trust, but verify”.
Empower your teams: Always ask them what you can do to make your teams stronger and empower them accordingly. This will also enable them to take bigger risks knowing you have their back.
Create space for yourself to know what you can do for yourself: Making yourself redundant doesn’t mean that you will not have to do anything. It essentially means to create a mental space for yourself so you can take care of other parts of your business like managing strategy versus being tactical which your earlier roles may have required.
Making Yourself Redundant: A Step Towards Scaling Up
I can say from my experience that once I started giving more responsibility and authority to my team, our discussions became richer. While I took over larger roles, my team started to up level themselves for the new responsibilities. So in a way, we all scaled ourselves up! Not to mention, I feel extremely proud of having created teams that outlast me. And so will you!
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