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Work Yourself Out of a Job

Work Yourself Out of a Job

As a newly appointed Director, I sat in the hotel room at a Miami resort attending a manager’s training. My team radio crackled loudly; another incoming question from one of my staff. Being polite, I quickly hopped up and went out the door to respond. After this exercise occurred a few more times, the long-time resort Dock Master, a navy veteran commander, offered an observation: “A sign of a good leader is that when that leader is gone, the organization doesn’t miss them.”

I smiled and nodded. It was not the first time I had heard that in my young career. “Work yourself out of job.” It sounded really good but being on the job for less than a year, I was in a steep learning curve. At that time, I had no idea what I would do if I actually did work myself out of a job.

I’ve learned a lot since that first manager’s meeting. I now know that ultimately the leader is responsible. That it is about developing, delegating and empowering people on your team. Threatened leaders don’t want to delegate, they feel they may lose their job, as well as their false sense of security. Good leaders start looking for new ways to add value to the organization, such as training and developing good people.

Dumping your job assignments on someone else is different than training and developing. The bigger picture isn’t about the leader at all. The bigger picture is about developing other people to be successful.  If you have the right people, they will want to learn more, do more and be challenged. If you don’t have the right people on the team, it may take a little longer before you can work yourself out of a job; maybe a lot longer; maybe never. And, at that point, I might ask myself if this is the right place for me to be?

Growth in the person and in the business comes from training and developing others. Good people become stale if they don’t have a new challenge and new goals. Are you at a place where you believe you should work yourself out of job? Are you in a position to train others on your team to be able to solve problems? Should you empower employees to make decisions and move forward with or without you there? To answer the question I asked myself in that hotel room, “What do you do once you worked yourself out of job?” Creative leaders start creating more value in other venues, taking up areas that have not been developed and making sure the foundation of the operation is set, so that when you are not there, you won’t be missed.

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