Who does not like being dependable. Feels good, doesn't it? But sometimes being dependable becomes a habit. We start to like the feel of it. And that's when “dependable” loses its significance and is now replaced by being “irreplaceable”. We tend to have this tendency to create dependencies on ourselves to get the importance/attention much craved for. But what we fail to understand during this transformation (from being dependable to being irreplaceable) is that you might be missing out on some other really good opportunities! How? Well, let me elaborate.
I am working on a project. It's been some 2-3 years now. I am the only one who now remains with the project, since its inception. The team grows and I have a few new members joining the project. I schedule a KT, but ensure I keep the most important bits to my self; so that they have to always come and ask me. Although my intentions are clean and I am more than open to help a member, no matter how many times I am approached, but I will not give away the tricks of the trade!
I apply for a few days of leaves and they are approved on the condition that I might be contacted during my vacation, if needed. Makes me feel good that I am so important for the team. With my strategy in place, I end up being over calls/emails almost for an hour every alternate day trying to answer queries and resolving issues for my team members. I am still happy!
There is a new project that comes in and considering my expertise and experience, I seem to be the first choice to take the lead for it. But doesn't happen so as I am an irreplaceable member in my current project! Not so happy!
See what I mean?
I spoil my vacation thinking that I am getting all the due importance! What we miss here is that in addition to spoiling your vacation your credibility might be questioned. In spite of the KT, what was the dire need every alternate day? Was the KT insufficient or needs to be modified? Why was relevant information not shared during the KT?
It is time to move on but since you have become “irreplaceable” for your project and team, you missed out the opportunity to handle a much better project with more scope to learn and grow.
Learn to draw the line between being dependable and being irreplaceable. Be dependable enough so that you are the first name that comes to mind for any new initiative, for new responsibilities, but not irreplaceable so that the name has to be striked out with the same speed as it was thought of.
No one is irreplaceable! If not you, it will be someone else. Things have to move on and they will–your being there might add value, but your not being there will not bring anything to a standstill. Things move on, with you around or not. Work will be done when you around, but know that the best test is to check for performance of your sub-ordinates when you not around. That will say it all!
Remember–Good leaders leave leaders behind them to take lead.