It’s simple: Being essential means others trust in and rely on you.
When it comes to being a good leader, making yourself essential to your organization is key. Being essential and indispensable means that you add significant value to your organization and the people around you; you are viewed by others as needed for the business to grow, survive and thrive. When you’re essential, you’re influential. Your impact is felt by others around you. Being essential also opens the door for new career opportunities for yourself.
Being essential is not about people pleasing or saying yes to everything that comes your way, but rather it’s about discerning what is most important in your role. When someone is considered essential, they’re generally known for problem solving, being inclusive, listening and generating rich ideas. They seek to build deep relationships based on trust; they show up as credible, reliable, solution-oriented and responsive. They put the organization’s interests above their own. They understand the bigger picture and can connect dots that put meaningful ideas and solutions into play. Additionally, they’re agile and view change as an opportunity.
Today, work is complex. There are more priorities coming at you than you can do. Making strong decisions about how to apply yourself will project your career forward. If you want to grow your leadership and career by being essential or indispensable, consider these tips:
1. Build trust; become a trusted advisor.
Building trust with your colleagues happens when you keep commitments, offer your time, listen, and create an experience where others feel heard and respected. A trusted advisor is someone that people seek out for input or advice. This happens when others see you as someone who always moves things forward, someone they can rely on, and someone who helps them learn, grow and thrive.
2. Deepen your subject matter expertise.
If you want to be essential, keep a learning mindset. You don’t need to be a walking encyclopedia, but you should always be studying your organization, your market, your customers, trends, the latest technology, leadership, etc. Then test the ideas that stem from that learning with others. You could do this not only to make your ideas better, but also to show your expertise. Remember that as your role changes or grows, the subject matter that is most important for you to be an expert in also changes. Stay aware and keep growing!
3. Show curiosity and interest by asking thoughtful questions.
People want to feel important and be valued. So, ask more than you tell. Show curiosity and find out their point of view. Sometimes it’s tempting to want to demonstrate your expertise by telling, but discussing a subject and showing curiosity can often have an even better impact on your reputation and relationships. Stay open-minded!
4. Be certain that you’re focused on the highest priorities.
Sure, we all wish there was a little more time in the day, but time is a limited resource. So, make good decisions. Make sure your time is aligned to what’s most important. Take stock of your organization’s highest priorities and create clarity for yourself and others on the most critical initiatives. Stay aligned and help to keep others aligned. That’s always valued!
5. Do more than what’s expected; deliver extra.
Doing the bare minimum or even just what is expected will not make you essential. Just about anyone can clock in, meet their assigned goals, and check tasks off their list. So, what does delivering EXTRA even mean? It means going above and beyond, accomplishing your goals, and looking beyond them to the “needs” and priorities of the organization, team, leaders and/or your colleagues. It’s about being connected enough to learn what matters and pushing yourself to continuously stretch and add value. Sometimes that’s advising, taking on a new project/initiative, figuring out what someone needs or solving a problem before it even happens. Talk to those you work with and learn what “extra” means to them.
The opportunity to be essential is there for everyone. It lies in deciding what you do and how you do it!