None of us likes to think about being replaced in our jobs. We enjoy the security that comes with the routine and familiarity of our role. The notion of someone else taking that spot from us can be unnerving. That discomfort leads us to behave in ridiculous and self-destructive ways. We hoard power and information. We keep our people from expanding their roles and their responsibilities. We wield the ring of power and there is but one ring to rule them all (oh. Sorry. Watched some Lord of the Rings this weekend…). The bottom line is we like our position in the organization and we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.
I submit that the best leaders out there are actively seeking someone to replace them. Whether they are looking within their own team, the broader organization, or outside the company, a good leader always has a notion of who will be sitting in their chair next. Why? Because organizations change, new opportunities present themselves, and people need chances to grow.
Those good leaders understand they might take another role in the organization. They might get laid off. They might have a life event that leads them to leave the company. Change is inevitable.
Those leaders understand it is their responsibility to ensure continuity and to prepare the organization for those changes. When the seat becomes empty it is too late to think about succession planning (a topic we’ve covered in depth on our blog in this post – click here to read it). Ideally that leader has identified and fully trained that person to take on the role at a moment’s notice.
The military provides a good model for this mindset.