Although counterintuitive, redundancy and leading can be a good thing when they are put together. Redundant is defined as “not or no longer needed or useful; also known as superfluous.” The one thing that all effective leaders do is make themselves redundant so they can move on to even greater challenges and help more people – knowing that the team they built will flourish and carry on the mission. Whether this means transitioning jobs completely or simply taking a much-needed vacation, becoming redundant in your organization means you are leaving behind a strong legacy of people who will continue to get things done long after you have moved on.
Importance of Building Redundancy
When you are the only person who can do a specific function, your organization gets absolutely blindsided when you need a break, fall ill, or decide to move onto a new company. By relying on “you” as an integral part of the process, they are assuming you will always be there to keep it going. Focusing on knowledge transfer and empowering others to learn and take on more responsibilities and tasks provides security both for your conscience and for the company. This way, if anything were to happen to you or if you decide it is time to move on to your next adventure no one is left at a complete loss.
Steps to Building Redundancy
Building redundancy may be an easier task to accomplish for some business models than others, but if it is achieved, then a self-sustaining robust business can be created. According to Guy Hargreaves, a network marketing professional, so much of a leader’s time is spent doing the ‘doing’ of managing a team and running the show that most managers don’t have time to actually think anymore. The managing and monitoring of workloads, measuring KPIs, running projects, managing the performance and conduct of employees, reporting upwards and dealing with the administrivia that comes from having a large number of direct reports are taking over the roles and daily duties of leaders that if they were to leave, things would crumble in their wake.
Hargreaves has referenced that there are four key steps that leaders can take to work toward making themselves redundant and lighting the load. These are:
1. Hire the right people
The first key step in becoming a redundant leader is hiring ‘A’ players. When looking to bring a new hire onto your team it is important to assess their fit with both your existing team and the company culture you are trying to foster. Making sure you find the right person the first time does yourself a favor in saving expensive and time-consuming resources. It will also help the company hit the ground running by filling a gap and completing a team.
The key to finding the right employee isn’t just finding someone who is willing to stay late or work on the weekends but finding people who focus on the fundamentals of the business to get the building blocks right. This may not be the most exciting element of the new business, but it is the one that will lead to the creation of a strong, self-sustaining business. A good indicator of someone who fits the bill is someone who wants to learn. Richard Branson, one of the world’s most successful and enigmatic entrepreneurs, referred to the hiring process saying “a person who has multiple degrees in your field isn’t always better than someone who has broad experience and a great personality.”
The best candidate is not always the one with the plushiest resume but the one who wants to learn and has a personality that will get along well with others.
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2. Delegate the actual work to the best people
In order to achieve redundancy, you will need to delegate important tasks to the right people. This will not only free up your time so you can do more of the things that you WANT to do but it will also make your more team confident in their abilities and skillset. Leaders should look at giving opportunities to employees who are interested in learning new skills, gaining knowledge and connecting with the organization.
However, care needs to be taken to ensure that the most capable and trustworthy people are delegated to these tasks and feedback loops are measured and accounted for because this could cause more work for you in the long run if you are having people do work incorrectly. A person new to the task may need some clearer direction so make sure to sit down with each team member to ensure that they have clearly defined and understood milestones with reporting structures in place. This will allow the project to stay on track and the leader to stay on top of the project.
3. Develop the team
With the right people, you then need to work on their growth and development to make them capable of taking responsibility for the work and outcomes as well as to trust them with major operational decisions.
A business can only run on autopilot when everyone in the business is on the same page and aware of what needs to be achieved and how to get there. A leader’s vision and goals cannot be in their head because unfortunately, people do not have the superpower to read minds. The vision and goals need to be documented, planned, discussed, adopted, lived and breathed.
4. Instill confidence and drive
Along with your work on developing the team, encourage the members to find ways to grow and develop themselves also. For the business to run without you, you need to trust your team implicitly. Include the team in all aspects of the business so they feel confident to take ownership. From the other steps in this process, you should have already provided the training, knowledge, background, resources, and support to make sure the team is employed to do what they need to do and function without you. Communicate to the team members that they have autonomy and authority to make decisions without you so that if the situation comes up that they need to get things done without you, they can.
Over time, your role as a manager will become redundant because your people will be competent, confident and capable. They will effectively manage themselves with a clear understanding of what is required. As a redundant manager, you will then be free to think again, be better equipped to better process and reinvent the wheel – which is where you can really add value. Or you know, take a vacation, you’ve earned it!