Becoming “Indispensable”

Becoming Indispensable

Being indispensable means you’re universally acknowledged as someone who is highly valuable and absolutely necessary. People tend to assume that indispensable roles reside at the top of the organization chart, but that’s not necessarily true. One thing for certain is that indispensable employees possess great power. They often exert more influence over an organization than members of the senior leadership team.

Indispensables include the salesperson who consistently stands atop the president’s club, the innovative scientist who inspires a research team to be manically focused, the division head who cuts through an organization’s red tape to get things done, the plant manager who keeps employees engaged while producing record output, the sales leader whose business acumen and charisma attracts top talent or the controller who thinks strategically and understands the why behind the numbers.

There’s a famous quote in George Orwell’s Animal Farm “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” As it turns out, this is a fundamental business principle. So consider: Who are these animals that are more equal than others and how can you become one of them?

Indispensables have discovered a secret formula that contains two ingredients. They operate at the intersection of individual competence and optimal platform. They first understand their natural personality strengths and how to leverage them. They grasp how these personality strengths, which underlie their competencies, are tied to the big picture. They are often both individual stars and strong team players, which makes them incredibly valuable. But without the second ingredient, the optimal platform, personality strengths will never be maximized to create that magical formula – the one that results in being indispensable. Your organization, position, or role must enable your strengths to flourish.

Below are statements describing derailers to becoming indispensable. Do any of these apply to you?

–      You still don’t truly know what you’re great at.

–      You feel stuck. You’re surviving but not thriving.

–      You’re in a tactical, non-strategic role.

–      You feel under valued and easily replaced.

–      You’re subordinate to an egoist who keeps you in the shadows.

–      You sometimes think you’re a charlatan and secretly fear you’ll be discovered.

–      You look forward to weekends but hate Monday mornings.

If any one of the above resonated with you, your likelihood of being indispensable is low. The first step to getting on the right track is to be able to answer the following question with an unquestionable and enthusiastic YES!

Do I believe that I possess personality strengths that make me totally unique?

Some people don’t believe they have any unique or special talents to offer the world. They do, of course. But their own self-perception limits their ability to grow and leverage this uniqueness into a career differentiator.

Your own uniqueness forms the foundation of your power. We each have a distinctly individual psyche. If we mature what we call our highest self, we will have developed our personality strengths. And, the opposite is also true. If we develop our personality strengths we will grow our highest self. Once this occurs, fear disappears. You naturally become more confident in who and what you truly are. The elimination of fear and newfound confidence is key to taking the next important step.

Now the challenge becomes finding the right platform to maximize those unique personality strengths. Renewed confidence about who you are should clarify what organizational dynamics must come together to be the best fit for you. Many talented people never become indispensable because they work at the wrong company, in the wrong culture or report to the wrong boss.

Through many years of studying human capital systems in organizations, we know that the people who are most successful have done two things well. They understand their inherent personality strengths and have found a platform to exploit those strengths. But before any of this can occur, they must know, deep within, they are gifted with a unique personality. When you declare, emphatically, that this is true for you too, you will have taken a powerful first step.

If you want to better understand how you can take full advantage of your own higher self, we suggest you read our new book, Becoming a Strategic Leader, which is available on Amazon. You’ll discover who you are through a science based model and then learn how to leverage your personality strengths in order to take your career in a new direction.

Dr. George Watts

Laurie Blazek

Top Line Talent


Instant Optimism

Instant Optimism

Optimism is a good thing. Many studies show that being optimistic increases happiness and reduces stress. Optimism is an important element of career success and leading a positive life.

Failure and disappointment are part of human existence. But why do some of us more easily move past professional and personal setbacks? Why do some people see the glass half-empty while others view the world through a half-full lens? How do you catch yourself when you begin to fall into the trap of negativity?

The real secret of optimism is probably something you haven’t considered. Shifting your mind-set to one of optimism requires you to overcome the ego’s projection of fear. Let me explain through a personal example.

I vividly remember 20 years ago being fired from my position as EVP. Our CEO left the company and was replaced by someone from the outside. I tried being a team player but my new boss was pompous and arrogant; I really didn’t like him. He immediately brought in a couple of former colleagues and it became clear I was about to be demoted. But instead, he brought me into his office and unceremoniously fired me. Naturally, I was upset and disheartened. Looking back, in that moment, the real challenge was for me to separate my ego from my higher self.

The ego is the part of you that demands validation and recognition; it’s the lens that interprets much of your worldview. The higher self is the part of your psyche that has no fear. This is what allows your best qualities to rise within your personality. To overcome my ego-based fear, I discovered a technique that instantly changed my mindset from one of fear to one of optimism. I still use it to this day.

It sounds simple but what I did was pose a question that made me laugh at myself. In this case, I asked: “Do I really want to work for this jerk that I can’t stand and who will make my life miserable?” The answer was clearly of course not!

If I would never be part of the new CEO’s inner circle, then why was I so upset about being let go from a situation that would diminish my influence? The real reason for my negative and self-defeating emotions were based entirely on my ego’s fear. I feared not finding or creating another career platform. I feared that I might lose social standing and lifestyle. But when I posed a brutally honest and ironically funny question to myself, I was able to laugh…at myself! I remember saying out loud: “I’m worthy of bigger and better things than to work for a jerk who will never appreciate my talents!”

I put my ego into an absurd predicament. If I couldn’t laugh at my own ridiculous question, I would have to admit to my own cowardice for accepting a diminished role.

I remember distinctly what happened next. Once I was able to laugh at myself, my fear immediately disappeared. Happiness, confidence, and gratefulness took its place. As a result of my experience, I now understood the power of this simple exercise. When faced with a career road bump that causes the ego to demonstrate fear, ask yourself a confronting but comical question. Even consider using graphic, bawdy language – whatever causes you to laugh out loud.

Laughing at your ego is integral to the process of experiencing instant optimism. Through posing confronting, perhaps even overstated questions and then honestly answering, you instantaneously change your emotions. If you actually laugh out loud, you win. You break the chains of your ego; it no longer can hold you back. This happiness and confidence is your natural higher order state. When fear is removed this is what remains.

I walked out the door at 11am and by 1:00pm I had secured my first meeting with an influencer. She subsequently connected me to several people and within 30 days, I had developed a new career platform. The following year, I more than doubled my income and had a lot of fun doing it. I realized that my previous fear was an illusion that could be shattered if I had the courage to laugh at my ego and change my mind-set.

The key point is to understand that whenever optimism seems out of reach, it’s because your ego is unconsciously projecting fear. Your ego convinces you that your future efforts may fail and you’ll be negatively judged. The ego is very powerful. Unchecked, it can derail you and eventually transform fear into depression.

Remember this exercise when you’re in a negative career situation. When you pose outlandish questions to yourself, you reveal the ego’s distortion. When you have the ability to laugh at your own ego it no longer controls you. You’ve risen above it. Nothing has changed except your attitude. Once fear is removed through laughter, a plan of action is free to enter into your conscious awareness. You’ll quickly see a positive path and what set of actions to take.

Become aware when you’re not thinking accurately; manage that pesky ego that always keeps trying to derail you. Optimism is your most valuable asset. It’s completely within your control.

Dr. George Watts

Top Line Talent