I’ve been writing a lot recently on how to become indispensable. This is one idea, directly or indirectly, I talk about with my clients all the time. It’s really another take on the idea of creating value. In today’s new economic reality, where people are scared out of their wits and freaked out about jobs, it is top of mind. Oh, maybe you don’t think, how do I become indispensable, but what everybody is thinking now is, how do I keep my job?
And the answer is: Become indispensable.
On my website at www.lodestaruniversal.com, I have all kinds of information about how to become indispensable. It’s not always packaged that way, but that’s what it is about: CREATING VALUE. It is stuff they don’t teach you in B-school. I know, because I teach/have taught in 5 B-schools. Far more than you might imagine, executives, even leaders, are unclear about how and why they are valued. They often think it is for one reason, when, in fact, it is for a very different reason. The point is that even people at the very top of the food chain can find it difficult to see themselves clearly without outside input. This is one high value of having an executive adviser. But let me continue with input from the people I interviewed recently about becoming indispensable such as Nancy Keene of Stanton Chase. What she has to say is succinct and saucy.
Executive recruiter Nancy Keene is one smart, experienced, and tough cookie. She doesn’t beat around the bush on anything. And she doesn’t like to have her time wasted. Nancy tells it like it is in her world, so naturally I thought you’d like to hear what she had to say when I asked her about her thoughts on becoming indispensable in this or any economy.
Nancy, who also is a former marketing director of PricewaterhouseCoopers makes these remarks: “In these difficult times, it’s important to demonstrate that you are able to thrive in a ‘high-demand’ world. You have to be able to ‘see around the corner’ and be sure your actions result in outcomes. Also, it is critical to know your strengths and to be in tune with how the organization is evolving. If the strengths you have don’t fit the needs of the organization, you should prepare to deploy elsewhere.”
In other words, leave, change, move on.
Tough words and even harder for most of us to do.
In truth, her comments are not so different in spirit from what Sam Beard, and Frank Springett, both of whom I wrote about in my two previous posts said. Bring value to the business. If you are simply an order taker, then expect to be dispensable. Order takers are a dime a dozen. If you expect to be a seat warmer, expect to be dispensable. Seat warmers are finding ice on their chairs, because no one has time or money for them any more. Frankly, far too many people who have called themselves executives or leadership have in fact been seat warmers and order takers riding on the coattails of others.
To create value in this new economy, ask the question, what do I bring to this table that makes a unique and valuable contribution?
If you don’t know, hire someone to help you create clarity around your unique value proposition. This is one of the key executive coaching values my company LodeStar Universal and I bring to the table. No matter how you find it. Get clear about it.
What are your reactions to Nancy’s comments?