Are you indispensable? Really?

Summer has arrived. Time to wind down, spend time with family and friends, head for the hills, and set the Out of Office message for a couple of weeks as you recharge and refresh, unburdened by the worries of work. Having left your work in your colleagues’ capable hands, you relax, knowing that all will be in order on your return.

Is this truly your reality? Actually, you are probably still connected, checking emails and messages, and generally still engaged with whatever is going on back at work. The concern that the wheels may fall off the bus in your absence, or at the very least a need to know what is happening in the background, mean that you are unable to switch off completely. This inability to let go has many unintended consequences, but are you really indispensable?

Apart from the negative impact on your well-being, which numerous studies have already explored, the inability to let go may also affect organisational performance both in the short and long term. In the long run, this could impact your career and growth potential as a leader.

In the short term, knowing that you are available at any time, allows your team to avoid taking decisions and abdicate responsibility. By staying in touch, you send a signal that you still wish to be involved, despite not being around. Allowing the team to take ownership of decisions in your absence could have some significant benefits.

Firstly, the team dynamics in your absence could help identify the high potential candidates in your organisation. Which of the team stepped up and took on extra responsibility? How well did they cope without your direction? Who took the time to slack off? After a couple of weeks away, it is often easier to determine how the individuals in the team are all performing.

If problems do arise, these could help identify gaps in your strategy or organisation, which can then be addressed. Some organisations enforce a compulsory two week holiday annually, which allows them to check that their systems are working well and that the organisation is not overly reliant on one individual.

In the long run, this could impact your career and growth potential as a leader. Career growth demands that there is someone else able to fill your shoes. Building a team that is able to perform without you is a great way to free yourself for bigger challenges.

So, take the plunge and have a break – not only have you earnt it, your team needs it!


This article was written by Nikunj Shah, the former founder and CEO of Datum Recruitment Services, and now founder and leader at Select Global Solutions, an Executive Search and Recruitment Firm providing solutions across Africa, India and other Emerging Markets. To speak to Nikunj and the team about your talent requirements, get in touch at info@selectglobal.co.in

Keywords: many unintended consequences | compulsory two week holiday | high potential candidates | organisational performance | Select Global Solutions