In this blog post I want to go into details about being indispensable and how you can go from just being another employee to becoming somebody irreplaceable.
In the industrial age, when factories were popping out of nowhere and a huge lack of factory workers arose, you were able to make very decent money by working in a job that required little to no thinking and absolutely no leadership. This was the age that made us rich. However, we are living in a massive culture shift at the moment where factory-like work is getting less and less lucrative and machines take over all of the mundane work.
By factory, I don’t just mean the big black building with no windows and a pile of smoke coming out of the top. By factory, I mean every organization and corporation that produces average or standardized products, where profit margins are declining and costs must be cut wherever possible.
In today’s economy, where high-tech, information management and internet companies grow at a speed that has never been seen before, leadership becomes invaluable. Producing average products for average people is no viable business model anymore. Because customization, creative and abstract products as well as innovation is at the core of this culture shift, leadership becomes more important than ever. The human factor, communication, innovation, creativity and initiative can not be standardized in a way that will lead to success. Therefore the economy needs people who no longer just execute and follow instructions but lead, think, challenge the rules and initiate change.
Management and leadership
I think management and leadership are to completely different areas. Management focusses on control, measurement and compliance. Leadership, on the other hand, encourages creative thinking, self-dependence, change and innovation. Of course, both parts are important but leadership has nothing to do with authority or being in a management position. Leadership can occur from anywhere in the organization.
How can you become indispensable?
In a time where the industrial age is coming to an end, you must become indispensable to be able to succeed in your career. The book “Linchpin” from Seth Godin is the perfect resource for this matter. He talks about art, change, leadership and how to become a linchpin within your organization. I highly recommend it to everyone who is willing to make a difference.
Just doing the work you are told to do, isn’t enough anymore. You are even expected to be creative, take initiative and lead in many jobs today. What if you could turn your work you do every day into art? What if you could show your boss, peers, organization, industry and the world your talents, skills, unique personality and passion? Do you think this would make you indispensable? It could, if you already are doing great work that stands out. The important thing you have to do, is making it public. Share it.
How do you get promoted?
Do you get promoted by doing great work that nobody sees? Do you get promoted by hiding your achievements? Of course not, exactly the opposite. The key is not to brag about what you achieved but to share it in a meaningful way where other can profit from what you have achieved.
Today, it is easier than ever to do this by blogging. You set up a WordPress site in 15 minutes, purchase a beautiful template for less than CHF 100.- and you are set. You can start writing about your work, your achievements and goals and share it with everyone who is willing to listen. I bet many people are willing to listen what you have to tell them if you do it in a way that can help them.
Challenge the status quo
Challenging the status quo is one of my favorite activities, I do it whenever I can. I get bored about standards, rigid structures and dumb rules very quickly. Therefore, whenever I encounter them, I challenge them. This is hard. What if you fail by doing it? What if your boss won’t let you? What if you get in trouble for doing so?
Well, as Bob Kelso in the soap Scrubs said “Nothing worth having comes easy”. If you feel comfortable all the time in what you are doing, you probably don’t reach your full potential.
Taking the risk of getting into trouble
When I started jordico.com, I was scared that I would get in trouble and that one of the 6000 website visitors within the first months, could very likely be my boss. What if he did not like my new idea? What if he saw it as a threat? What if he thought I wanted to compete with my current employer?
Well, after the initial anxiety about those thoughts, I decided to not care and launched jordico.com anyway. I guess my heretical personally won after all and I am more than happy that it did. As a matter of fact, my boss was indeed one of the website visitors within the first month and called me to talk about it. I explained to him that what I do at jordico.com is my deepest passion and that there is absolutely no conflict between my corporate job and my own business. He understood and one week later, the issue was resolved.
Was there a possibility that my boss would be so upset that he fired me? Maybe. But I followed my passion anyway and as most of the time, it turned out just fine.
But what if it did not turn out to be just fine? I guess that is something I decided to risk for pursuing my passion.
Share your work
If you want to become indispensable and care the least bit about personal branding, share what you do at work. Share your thoughts, projects, achievements, milestones, strategies and techniques. You can do this by blogging, on social networks, in a newsletter to your contacts or in any way you want to. Blogging for me works incredibly well and I highly recommend it to anyone. When you do share your work, try doing it in a way that affects other people in a positive way and helps them.
I am aware that this is not always possible for everybody because of company regulations. You probably should not share the latest drug developments of your company that have not been put on the market or your company’s client list. However, there are always things you can share, no matter where you work and what you do.
When you are looking for a job, did you ever have to contact somebody on LinkedIn but did not know how to introduce yourself or what to write? Do you have trouble connecting with people on LinkedIn because you think you don’t have much value to provide?
If you follow my advice on starting your own blog, soon you will have much more value to provide than you think.
Imagine you are the regional sales director for Spain and you hear that a company in your industry is expanding to Spain and wants to break into that market.
What if you shared your experience in that market, situations you encountered, that are very specific to Spain and solutions that solve problems in this area, on a blog? How do you think the CEO or whoever is leading this project, would react if you wrote him a message on LinkedIn saying that you are the regional head for the area he is trying to tap into and share a link to your blog with many valuable information that will make his work much easier? Do you think he will notice you?
I bet he wants to meet you in person and talk about your experience. I am also certain he will tell his CEO friends about you and your work and suddenly you are no longer just another employee but a highly valuable asset. You are indispensable.
Let’s take another example. You are a Software Developer and share your work, ideas, accomplishments and solutions in a passionate way on your blog. You hear from your peers that a large competitor is starting to work on a similar project like the one you are deeply involved in.
What if you looked up the responsible project manager or department head of your competitor and shared a link to your blog area, with all the details about how you encountered specific issues and managed difficult tasks specific to that technology? Do you think he would notice you? I am sure of it.
This can be done with almost any profession and industry, of course, always taking into consideration what you are allowed to share and what not.
Are you a linchpin or just another employee? If you made it that far through this article and are still reading, I bet you are a linchpin.