Are You Indispensable?
Take these simple steps to make yourself a Prime Mover in your organization — indispensable to your company and customers.
by Dan Strutzel
While skills can certainly be replaced — public speaking, negotiating, selling, accounting, etc., there are certain individuals who bring such uniqueness in their performance of these skills, that they simply can't be replaced. In her classic novel Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand described what she called "The Prime Mover" — a heroic individual who contributes vastly more value to society than the average person — whose leadership and ingenuity are essential to keeping the engine of an organization working. In fact, in the conclusion to Atlas Shrugged, all of these Prime Movers go on strike, and, as a result, the society grinds to a halt.
So, whether you're the CEO, a midlevel manager, or an entry-level employee, here are just a few steps you can take to make yourself a Prime Mover — indispensable to your organization and customers.
1. Give it Your Stamp of Authenticity
What qualities do you have that are unique to your personality? These are the qualities that everyone, from family members to co-workers, comment on again and again. It may be an incredibly positive attitude, an attention to detail, a flair of eccentricity, being a great people person, etc. Find a way to infuse that quality into every task you undertake in your organization. Skills can be easily replaced; authentic individuals performing those skills in unique ways cannot.
2. Become Truly Excellent at What You Do
There is no substitute for excellence. You can be authentic and helpful, but if you don't produce results, your time in any organization will be limited. Identify the three key skills that are central to producing bottom-line results for your company. Create your own self-directed university around these three skills, and begin to tackle each skill, one at a time, in three-month increments. Do this by reading books, taking seminars, listening to audio programs, or finding a mentor to coach you. Nine months from now, you should graduate from your self-designed university with an A+ in results, and a bulletproof career.
3. Follow Up Immediately
In a 24-hour economy, where the 200–email and 10–phone mail day is no longer uncommon, people have become more accustomed to long delays in receiving responses to their messages. You can use this to your advantage to help you stand out from the crowd. Develop the reputation of someone who follows up immediately. Use the advice of productivity expert David Allen and use the "two-minute rule" for responding to messages. Ask yourself with every email or phone mail, "Can I respond to this in two minutes or less?" If so, respond to it now, since it will take you longer to file it or reconsider it than respond. Follow this one rule, and it will label you as a lightning-quick responder on nearly 90% of your messages, and you'll form a powerful impression of someone who is committed to and in charge of your work.
Simple-sounding tips but can transform anyone's career. The recent emphasis on identifying and playing to one's strengths as opposed to fixing weaknesses is also about achieving excellence in those areas where we have a passion and talent.