Are you irreplaceable? Many of us think this is a sure-fire career booster and an ace in the hole against job threats like economic recession, corporate take-over, or a restructuring initiative. If we have ‘irreplaceable’ skills or a corner on vital knowledge, we think people will need us. Everyone will know we are the ‘go-to’ person and thus secure our little kingdom. While this may feed your ego and give you guru status (at least for a time), it is a HUGE limiter to your promotability!
If no one can replace you, your boss can’t afford to promote you!
Yes, your competence and expertise will be rewarded, but technologies change, systems change, organizations change and priorities change. At a certain point, your empire will crumble if only because that confusing program or regulatory standard just got a complete overhaul and you have wrapped your value and reputation around something that doesn’t exist or isn’t needed anymore. So much for job security!
But even more important is the attitude of irreplaceability. It changes you into a protective island of information shrouded in secretiveness. You aren’t seen as a team player willing to share, teach, and mentor – the very skills your boss is looking for in positions of greater responsibility.
I had a very talented member on my team who had lots of potential. I would not be human if I didn’t feel a bit threatened by Dan. It’s hard to admit that as his boss thoughts of how easy it would be to keep his visibility low crossed my mind. I certainly had experienced that myself, but I saw what he could do and wanted to help him realize it. I had experienced far too many bosses who took my ideas and presented my material as their own and moved up the corporate ladder and I didn’t want to be ‘that gal.’
So I had him author his program updates and looked for ways to get him time in front of upper management. I brought him to meetings to present his own work. It didn’t take long before he was recognized as a leader. With Dan trained and experienced, it was easy for my boss to see him in my position when I had an opportunity to move into marketing. He was ready to step into a new role and was recognized as the obvious choice all the way up the corporate ladder. I became known as someone who could develop leaders and with such an easy transition plan, I could take on new challenges. A win-win for everyone!
So do you want to move on, grow your business or move up the ladder in your company? Mentor your replacement and focus on practicing the skills needed for your NEXT position.