You Are Replaceable

business leader business owner ceo leadership Mar 29, 2022

Once you think that you are irreplaceable it's time to hang up the cleats and move on to retirement.

Arrogant leaders divide organizations, destroy sustainable growth, and are a detriment to the overall mission of any organization.  The reality is that everyone is replaceable.  Unfortunately, many leaders believe something different.   Once you realize that you are only a temporary caretaker for the organization the sooner you can start having a truly positive impact on your team.  Today, we are going to discuss some hard truths about leaders and how to really serve your team.  

Truth #1:  The mission did not stop when I retired from the Air Force.  Not only did it not stop, but it also didn’t even slow down.  The great leaders that stepped in to fill my position did an exceptional job.  If you are doing your job as a servant leader then you are grooming your replacement.  All of my number 2s became number 1s and many continued on to much higher leadership levels in the overall organization.  I hope that my leadership provided them with some tools that they still use today.    Your first tip:  Always be grooming your replacement.  Be a mentor and enjoy their success.

Truth #2:  We are never as good as we think we are.  Times change, personalities change and the organizational goals change.  We work with many older leaders who “throw shade” on the millennials that work for them.  I hate to break it to you, but we were the “millennials” at one point.  Those pain in the butt young people who always thought our leaders were crazy.  In reality, our leadership, or lack thereof creates the problem.  Their ideas aren’t wrong, they are just different.  The reason they are different is that times change, culture changes, and priorities change.  Tip number 2:  Challenge your younger teammates to fail.  Let them try new ideas and be there to catch them when they fall.  A leader’s job is not to squash innovation, it is to encourage it, guide the team, and challenge old ideas.  None of us are as smart as we think we are!

Truth #3: You only deserve a styrofoam cup.  If you have not watched Simon Sinek's youtube video discussing leadership you need to watch it.  The link will be in the show notes.  When you are a CEO, Senior Military Leader, or even a Head Football Coach.  You get certain perks.  I can remember the first time I walked into a room filled with my teammates as a commander.  Everyone snapped to attention.  People fell over themselves to make sure I was taken care of...Some leaders think that they deserve this response...they do not.  The respect is for the position and when you move on it stops.  I will never forget walking off of the stage when I relinquished command.  I quietly reached for my wife’s hand and left the building.  We then headed to Chili’s for a quiet lunch.  My son looked at me and smiled.  We all knew what had just happened.  No fanfare, no parade, I once again became just another officer serving our great nation.  I happily grabbed my styrofoam cup and got back to work.  Tip #3  Remember you only deserve a styrofoam cup, don't get so caught up in your position that you ever think you are better than your team.  You are not.

Being a great leader means you always put your people first.  Just because you are in charge you are not funnier, you are not smarter and you are certainly no better than anyone on your team.  Your team laughs at your jokes because of your position.  You get certain perks because of your position.  It has little to do with you.  Your job is to always serve your team and put the team first.

Arrogance breeds contempt.  Many leaders have learned this the hard way.  CEOs accused of insider trading, college coaches busted for recruiting violations and misuse of funds permeate organizations run by arrogant entitled leaders. All of these leaders got caught up in the moment and forgot their sole purpose, to serve those they lead.  You can’t live by the adage do as I say, not as I do.  Your actions speak much louder than your words.   Remember the first time you accidentally cussed in front of your child.  You hoped those innocent ears did not hear the words you uttered, but they did.  At the most inappropriate moment, your mini-me used the word in perfect context.  Your face turned bright red with embarrassment.  Some of you owned it, others of you loudly rebuked your child.  Your team will always follow your actions whether they are good or bad.  

You show me an organization performing at the highest level.  I will show you a servant leader focused on the team.  On the other hand, you show me an organization that is failing.  I will show you an authoritarian leader who rules by fear and continually violates the same standards they are trying to uphold. 

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