A Leader You Can’t Live Without

I told a board member of a large organization that successful leaders constantly develop their replacement. He was shocked and confused.

He wrongly believes that successful leaders create value by making themselves indispensable.

Self-importance devalues others.

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The greatest test of leadership is what happens when you’re gone.

Leaders – who aren’t creating leaders – corrode the future. An indispensable leader leads a dependent organization.  

A leader you can’t live without:

  1. Limits organizational potential.
  2. Provides false security.
  3. Needs to feel important.
  4. Sucks the life out of “lesser” humans.

A leader you can’t live without is in the way.

Some corporate leaders are simply cogs in a machine, easily replaced. Others bring unique value that will be missed when they’re gone. Truly great leaders constantly work to replace themselves.

The most challenging thing leaders do is develop leaders who are in it for others, not themselves.

10 ways to lead like a dispensable leader:

  1. Think two generations down the road, not one.
  2. Instill a passion to develop other leaders in all leaders. Self-interest and self-importance prevent leaders from developing leaders.
  3. Don’t waste time with people who don’t care.
  4. When you see an ember in others, fan it. People need encouragement more than criticism.
  5. Help others assess their own learning. “How are you becoming a leader who develops leaders?”
  6. Stop making systems that depend on you.
  7. Navigate tensions between protecting what you have and building the future. Protection closes up. Building opens up. Success requires both.
  8. Don’t be so damn helpful. Let others struggle and succeed.
  9. Embrace imperfection. Others won’t do things the “right” way.
  10. Practice coaching. Give less advice.

Being a dispensable leader is about equipping more, not working less. The less people need you, the more effective you’ve become.

What prevents leaders from dedicating themselves to developing leaders who develop leaders?

How do leaders develop leaders who are dedicated to developing leaders?

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