Sunday, January 31, 2010

Is Nobody Indispensable?

When I ask around, ‘What do you understand by being indispensable?’ I receive a wide range of responses and interpretations.

I tend to hear: ‘Nobody is indispensable!’ What does that mean? It sounds like employees do not really value themselves very much. If you do not value yourself very much, then why would your organization think, otherwise?

Consider the occasions when your team needed you around: year-end audits; during their vacation; when a male staff attends national service; a colleague goes on examination leave; your colleague is on maternity leave. On these occasions, were you most needed to deliver certain tasks? Thus, were you indispensable? Now, whatever number of days you were considered ‘vital’ or ‘cannot do without’, what would it take to extend this period of relevance? That is the goal you will have to think through.

I think the question is not about ‘indispensability’. It is about being valuable. How do you make yourself valuable? What is your brand? What does your brand stand for?

What do you possess that is valuable to your organization? How do you stand out from the rest? How do you position your brand? Which competencies do you possess that is rare, and valued by your organization? What are your mental orientations: contemporary versus traditional; flexible versus rigid; innovative versus predictable; daring versus safe?

Authors, David McNally and Karl D. Speak of ‘Be Your Own Brand’ wrote that ‘When you think of brands, chances are you think about whether we trust them or not, like them or not, remember them or not, value them or not.’ All these words have emotional components.

I just met a 40-something friend today, and he has been an entrepreneur for the past year. He challenged himself to do something different after earning his pedigree MBA degree. For the last six months, he worked on retainer as a consultant, doing business process reengineering. He is, currently, being wooed by an executive search firm for two global positions. Lucky? Perhaps? Hard work? Certainly. Relevant? You are correct. Indispensable? Probably. Indispensable skills. Absolutely.

What will you do on Monday? How will you position your brand? Evaluate your worth.


Anonymous said...

In my professional career I have found the most important indispensable skill is honesty. Being known to be honest and and trustworthy is extremely important in management as there are in most cases many people above and below you that depend very much on your word.

Enrico Varella said...

Thank you for writing, Rich.

I agree with you. Honesty is a vital trait/value in almost all human interactions, including business. Whether it is the gaming industry, a bank, education, B2B and B2C interactions - honesty, trust and integrity are important measures. Your word - as old fashioned as it is - is absolute for those who value honour, honest and trust.

Rich, would you be able to share with us how you measure honesty and other values in your organisation as a senior executive?

I am tracking your blog. It has relevant and contemporary workplace teams and management. Thank you for writing, Rich.