Why is this important?
There is the story of two lecturers working in a university. Lecturer number one was very directive and traditional. He had a style that involved them doing lots of talking and minimal listening. He saw himself as the expert and the students were there to take notes and learn from the master.
Lecturer number two was equally knowledgeable but had a different style. He would encourage the students to work in groups, he would set them problems to solve and give them tough questions to work through. He taught them about research and working together to investigate things.
Now it happens that both lecturers were off sick on the same day. The university put up a sign ‘lecturer off sick’. What happened? Well the first group went home. The sign made little difference to the second group who carried on as usual. So what happens when you are not there?
The other issue raised by this question is linked to people development. To what extent are you raising the capabilities and developing people who are capable of taking over your role. Developing one or two people as potential successors should be a high priority for you.
What problems might arise if you don’t work on this?
Your people will become very dependent on you You will also fail to develop your people to their full potential You might also become over worked as you try to do everything When you leave, no one internally is ready to take over your role
A couple of tough questions
What happens when you are not there?
Do you have someone from within your team ready to take over your role?
Are you a ‘hero’? Someone who thinks that the world will stop if you aren’t there?
Are you struggling to get things done when there are some perfectly capable people ready and willing to help?
Are you missing an opportunity to develop people?
What could you do about it?
Think about developing a successor. Spend serious time developing people closest to you so that they can learn some with your role
Look at the work you are doing with a critical eye. What do you really need to do? What could you delegate? A common accusation aimed at leaders is that they keep all the best and often the nicest jobs for themselves and yet are more than willing to delegate the mundane, less attractive work. Could this happen to be you?
Spend time training and coaching people so that they begin to build knowledge skills and confidence.
Remember, people are mostly hungry to learn, eager for opportunities and enthusiastic about development. Challenge them to raise their game.
Beware! You can overdo your strengths
Beware of abdicating responsibility. Whilst you can develop and engage the people who report to you, the buck still stops with you. If your people screw up it is still your fault.