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Laws of Leadership: Make Yourself Replaceable

By September 29, 2017October 10th, 2023Strategy, Team

As a leader or entrepreneur, you’ve probably heard some of these phrases before:

“Train your replacement.”

“Name your number 2.”

“Who’s in charge if you get hit by a bus?”

It’s easy to gloss over these, but if you’re really planning to be successful, you’ll need to consider them more seriously. Many leaders are too short-sighted or self-absorbed to think about these in the right way.

Maybe you’re afraid that by coaching your number two, you’ll become dispensable. That by training someone to cover for you, your unique set of skills aren’t actually that important to the life of the business.

Now try thinking about it this way: how great would it be to return from a vacation with your inbox empty or with only a few key things you need to act on? Or you go on a business trip without having to call in on every break or lunch session to “put out fires” or “make decisions” so your team can continue moving forward?

Sounds pretty satisfying, right?

Here are a few other reasons why it makes sense to have someone else ready to take the helm while you’re out:

  1. Avoid SPF: In business, you never want to have a single point of failure (or SPF). Meaning, you want multiple ways to do everything. From approvals, to direction, to strategy. No single thing should be able to bring your business or a department to its knees if something happens. That includes you and your team.
  2. Really rejuvenate: Imagine taking a month-long vacation with confidence (really!) knowing that your team will handle almost anything while you’re gone. And what they DO need your help on isn’t an emergency, so it can wait until you are back.
  3. Build true leaders: As a leader, your job is to…build other leaders. And the best way to do that is to let others LEAD. Give them opportunities to take charge. And that includes taking risks and possibly making mistakes. That’s where we all learn and grow. Giving your team safe opportunities to learn and grow is your job.
  4. Get out of the nuts and bolts: By putting trust in others, you can focus on the activities that are core to your role as a leader in the company. You can now work ON the business instead of IN the business. You can see for miles and miles at the 10,000-foot-level instead of staying busy down at sea level.
  5. Grow your business: One secret you probably already know is that your company is more valuable when your leadership multiplies. So you’re investing in your business’ success when you invest in your people’s success.

Bottom line: To be a great leader, you need to make yourself replaceable. When you do that, you’ll experience the freedom you’ve probably been longing for. To do the work that you are best at. That you are passionate about. And to top it off, you’ll get the joy and satisfaction in watching your team flourish and succeed. Don’t be afraid. Set you AND your team free to lead.

Coach Keith

With over 30 years in Business Management, Coach Keith has helped many clients achieve their dreams, whether that’s more profitability, more free time, or a more mindful growth plan. He loves the adventure of baseball, the gifts from listening, and the flexibility in sticky notes.