Irreplaceable is an unspoken attribute we all wish to possess. We want to be so respected in our work role that we feel not only respected or cherished, but we also feel safe. There is something reassuring in knowing that no one on your team could possibly fill your shoes. It is a kind of job security leverage. But this situation can also be an anchor. You cannot possess the security of having no succession plan and be seen by those above you as an attractive candidate for a new role. You cannot have it both ways. Why? Because the upwardly mobile leader always prepares those who could follow him in his or her rise. Having a quality succession plan is one of the signs of a good leader.
A good leader finds security in the forward momentum created by leadership skills. You don’t need to hunker in a role to feel secure in your future. You secure your future by being excellent at what you do and make yourself not only attractive for future roles, but available too. Of course there is risk in being available, of recognising that you are not irreplaceable. Skilled and assertive businesses will often use succession strategies proactively to keep costs down. If leaders are made to be aware of a skilled reserve waiting in the wings, they can be worked on when it comes time to renegotiate salaries etc. So it does offer power to the more aggressive employers.
But succession planning when driven by a leader within her team, does two key things — it offers the leader that beautiful element of leadership which is preparing the next wave of young leaders by giving them the benefit of your wisdom and shaping them in ways that you value. Secondly, it signals to anyone paying attention that you are not just a leader, you are also a player. You are confident in your value, and are ready to take it elsewhere if it suits you. You don’t achieve a sense of security by hunkering down in a role. No, you achieve security by being the most evolved leader in the organisation.