Thursday, December 20, 2012

Making Yourself Dispensable

If you read my last post, you will remember that I talked about making yourself indispensable.  Here is the other side of the coin.  How do you go about making yourself dispensable?

At one point in my denominational career, I was looking for a person who would become my associate.  The executive director of the state Baptist convention had one word of advice: “You need to find someone who could step in and take your place if you were hit by a truck tomorrow!”  Not very subtle, but his comments make sense.  There are certain things that you have learned how to do that you can pass on to others.  This not only calls out new talent but makes a smooth transition to new leadership more likely.

Andy Stanley provides a similar challenge when he tells his staff members, “You should always be training someone who could step into your position.”  So how do you make yourself dispensable? How can you prepare someone to take your place?
First, you need to know your job.  Although someone else might handle the details differently, there are certain basic concepts and specific information that someone needs in order to continue what you are doing.  In order to pass that on, you need to have a clear understanding about how you do your job, what is expected of you, what is essential, and what is negotiable.

Second, you must find the right person to train.  The person you select but not only be capable but must have a teachable spirit.  He or she must be willing to learn.  The person does not have to be just like you in personality but similar gifts would be helpful.  You are not trying to create a clone but train a competent leader.

Third, you should give him or her opportunity not only to learn but to practice.  Give the person the chance to do things on their own, be a sounding board for his or her questions or concerns, and provide performance coaching as needed.

Fourth, you must not be afraid to give good, honest feedback.  As a musician friend said to me recently, “Practice does not make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.”  Don’t be afraid to share what you know.

Fifth, you should continue to stretch the person by providing growth challenges.  Give the person more responsibility.  Once your associate has mastered the basic concepts and skills of the job, encourage the person to try new ways to address the task. In so doing, he or she may discover an effective way to accomplish the same things but more in keeping with his or her own personality or gifts.

Give it some thought.  What can you do in 2013 to make yourself dispensable?


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