The success of a manager is measured by the speed of redundancy of his own post.

Leaders are called into their roles with the aim of bringing about development through change and leaving behind a legacy of what I call leadership legacy: a trail in the development of people, the organisation and themselves. The role of the leader is to prepare the organisation for the next stage of development and to make his or her own role redundant. As my colleague-trainer Leena Kivisild said after my talk: self-destructive leadership.

The deepest and most positive emotions in my professional life have come from moments when I have realised that I am no longer needed. These emotions are so powerful, euphoric and liberating that I remember them in detail. Rick Warren has said that the greatest tragedy is not death, but life without purpose. Therapists also say that the fear of death is the fear of a life not lived – of not knowing your purpose and not living it.

Leadership is an activity in its own right and must be purposeful – more than half of an employee’s waking hours depend on the leader (and the leader as an employee), not to mention the organisation’s performance, the value to customers and the world. Those who are more familiar with the role of leadership as an agent of change towards objectives and as a representative of change will know that the choice of styles and tools is limitless for a leader and that the choice depends to a large extent on personality and organisational values. Here are some examples of management styles and styles to choose from:

  • coaching vs. lecturing;
  • centralisation vs. responsibility sharing;
  • pragmatic vs. transformative;
  • authenticity vs. acting the part;
  • operational vs. long-term focus;
  • delegation of responsibility vs. delegation of decision-making (with 4-7 different levels of delegation);
  • a balance between punishment and reward;
  • a balance between avoiding pain or seeking pleasure.

There are handwritings we accept and there are handwritings we don’t. It depends on the person, their values, their authenticity, their selflessness, their empathy. And it depends on the manager – whether he or she is looking for development or stability (losing or keeping his or her job).

How to make yourself superfluous as a driver?
At the same time, the leader generally wants to involve people. Inclusion is an intermediate step, but co-creation should be the main goal. Co-creating in a way where people create together in a way where the leader is no longer needed as a symbolic value. Only when innovation, ideas and value creation is not one-sided (driver-driven), but draws on all background systems – a mix that values differences helps each other in ways that cannot be achieved alone.

If you value engagement, debate and development as a leader, your focus could be on whether every action you take contributes to these values in a way that you can step out of it and the culture will live on without you. It doesn’t always mean that your job can be made redundant, but it can mean that you actually have time for big goals, for your family and loved ones, and that you’re no longer at work, but just part of your day with people who you’re helping to make each other’s dreams come true, doing something bigger that you couldn’t achieve alone. For example:

  • The briefings are not just led by you, but by different team members in rotation.
  • The information days become discussion days, where at least 50% of the time the discussion is aimed at creating something new (discussing the motivation system, career management, structures, basic roles, complex management situations, what is happening in society, etc.).
  • The development meetings have been reorganised into cooperation meetings.
  • Intentional introduction of four-eye-meetings (at least 30 minutes at least every two weeks), where people get support and feel they are important contributors to each other.

The greatest reward for a driver is the moment when he gets bored. This is a sign that the strengths needed for the role of a leader are in place and it is time to move on. When a leader starts to develop something that is no longer their strength (for example, as a leader, I have been a culture builder and initiator, but I know that I am not a strong keeper of stability in the company), they start to do something that is not natural. If a leader realises that it is now necessary to evolve enormously into someone else, then their contribution is made and the role as such is unnecessary. The sooner this happens, the happier the manager is – he or she has been made redundant.

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