Leaders – Make Yourself Replaceable

Leaders – Make Yourself Replaceable

As technology continues to progress and we get more and more automation, many jobs will be replaced by technology. For many people, this is scary. So why am I suggesting you make yourself replaceable? Simple – it’s the right thing to do.

I’m not talking about doing lame jobs that can be done by a computer. Avoid those jobs that are strictly transactional, and gravitate towards jobs that are creative and emphasize the humanity in yourself and others. 

What I am talking about is creating sustainable systems and building the people around you to lead in your absence. You want to make everything around you better for the long-term, whether you are there or not. Perhaps you may find another opportunity or get promoted. Investing in everythings around you to help with whatever transition you make will make your job easier and bless the lives of those around you.

Create and Improve Systems Using PDCA

There are some things in your work that cannot be turned into a system, but there are many that are. Even aspects that involve human creativity can be streamlined so that they are consistent and cultivate maximum productivity for all involved. 

For example, I used to spend time creating and refining manufacturing processes. In order to do so, I spent time working with those who implemented my processes to understand their challenges and observe inefficiencies. I would create and track important metrics to benchmark and measure improvements. Then, I would make adjustments and observe the impact. This happened in a continuous improvement cycle borrowed from the Toyota Production System called PDCA – Plan, Do, Check, Adjust.

  • Plan – Observe what problems exist that you can work to improve
  • Do – Test potential systems to improve
  • Check – Study the metrics and determine results of different approaches tested
  • Act – Permanently implement the best solution based on the data you collected.

If you follow this cycle consistently, you will see massive improvements in quality and speed of work. This can happen in all areas of a company, not just in a manufacturing environment.

Build Others to Lead

As a leader, you should be building and grooming those around you to fill your shoes one day. For whatever reason, you won’t always be there, so it’s your responsibility to help them be ready when they need to step up. 

Yet, this isn’t only important in those moments when you are personally making a change. It can help you right now. Think about it – what qualities do great leaders need? 

  • Build trust in those around them
  • Take personal responsibility for their work
  • Continually develop their skills
  • Communicate effectively 
  • Many more!

These are the same skills you’d want every person that works for you to have. If you build them now, they’ll do great work for you now and be more ready to lead in the future. It’s a win-win all around. 

To do this, you’ll need to identify the strengths of individuals so you can empower them in their work. Not every person is suited or even wants to do the same work you do. Finding ways to give them pieces of your work that they can thrive at while utilizing their own strengths and interests can be quite powerful for a team. 

I’ll just end with one quote from Sheryl Sandberg:

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts beyond your absence” 

May you constantly strive to increase your replaceability for the good of all.

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