By Mike Myatt, Chief StrategyOfficer, N2growthAfter reading Seth Godin'sbook Linchpin, I was reminded of the volumeof information circulating of late espousingthe benefits of making yourself indispensable to youremployer. While this mantra has clearly gained sometraction, if not actually becoming quite popular, popularthinking does not necessarily equate to sound thinking. Let me beas clear as I can - nobody, and I meannobody is indispensable. I don't care who you are,what role you play, or what your title is...if you perceiveyourself to be indispensable, you are setting yourself up for avery rude awakening. Furthermore, anyone who by design setsout to orchestrate a situation to make themselves indispensable isnot operating in good faith. In today's post I'm going toshare my thoughts as to why the myth of becoming indispensableis very dangerous thinking to say theleast... A well managed company does not allowitself to become dependent upon the performance of any singleindividual. Those individuals who attempt to hoard knowledge,relationships, or resources to attain job security shouldnot to be valued or viewed as indispensable,but should be admonished as ineffective and deemed aliability. Corporate talent that cannot be shared, duplicated,distributed, or leveraged is not nearly as valuable as talent thatcan.So, where has all this recent self-indulgent, misguidedthinking come from? I believe much of it stems from the self-helptypes that proliferate the concept of self-promotion forself-benefit over the concept of service above self. As Imentioned earlier, more distressing is that this concept wasrecently validated in Seth Godin's new book Linchpin. Let me begin by stating that I'm a Seth Godin fan. While Iagree with him more often than not, I will from time-to-time findmyself shaking my head wondering what in the heck could Sethpossibly be thinking? In his recent book Linchpin, SethGodin puts forth some great concepts that we should all aspire to.I wholeheartedly agree that each of us should become thebest we can be, that our work should become developed and refinedto the point where it is viewed as art, and we are seen as theartist behind the masterpiece. So much of what you'll read inbetween the covers of Linchpin is as close toinspirational brilliance as you'll find in a businessbook, which is why it pains me to have to point out thecritical flaw in Linchpin that regrettably overshadows thehighlights - namely the concept of the linchpin itself. Sethdescribes a linchpin as somebody in an organization whois indispensable - who simply cannot be replaced becausetheir role is just far too unique and valuable. Making thingsworse, he then goes on to say how important it is for all ofus to become indispensable, for not to be indispensable istantamount to economic and career suicide. Encouraging somebody tomake the most of their talents and abilities is quite laudable -encouraging them to become indispensable is validating a newlevel of self worship that I find quite troubling.In fact, I wouldgo so far as to say that anyone who sets out to make themselvesindispensable would be the one committing career suicide for tworeasons: 1.) anyone who is "perceived" asindispensable in their current role completely eliminates anypossibility of promotion, and; 2.) Any goodleadership team who finds themselves dependant upon a linchpin willimmediately move to mitigate the risk of finding themselves in suchan untenable position.It is an organization's ability tocollect and convert data into information, turn information intoknowledge, and knowledge into an operating advantage that allows anenterprise to effectively address current needs as well as tostrategically drive innovation and forward planning. This cannothappen if one person positions themselves as alinchpin. Put more simply, a corporation's employees must beable to acquire knowledge (learning), transfer knowledge (out ofthe head and into an information system), apply knowledge (from theinformation system into an actionable event), manage knowledge(execute with focus, timing and precision), and secure knowledge(keep it from evaporating or even worse from walking out the doorto a competitor). Let's see if we can bring this issue a bit closerto home for some of you...Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Have you ever had a disruption in business continuitybecause someone who possessed a wealth of experience and/orinformation retired, quit or was terminated?
  • Have you ever lost a deal or had a majoroperational problem because somewhere in your organization youfound yourself dependent upon a single person's expertise and theydropped the ball?
  • Have you ever found yourself in the unenviable position ofdesiring to terminate an employee only to be held hostage by thefear of losing the knowledge that they possess?

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