I spent a significant amount of time recently with a physical therapist. Years of sitting at a desk improperly had taken their toll on my back. Many of the major muscles were knotted up and I was in a fair amount of pain which kept me from functioning as I should.
I asked for a quick session or two (because my insurance didn’t pay for this kind of physical therapy) to just fix things; the physical therapist smiled (in a “Mary Jo has no idea” sort of way) and got to work. Little did I know how long I would have to keep returning for more back therapy. I scheduled sessions week after week for several months to have her put me through the torture chamber as she pulled and pushed.
But pulling and pushing isn’t all she did. She also taught me how to work out at the gym without further injuring those tender healing muscles. She taught me how to sit at my desk to avoid the experiencing that kind of pain again. And she taught me how to exercise, stretch, pull and push my back on my own in order to keep it strong in the future.
It was slow progress, but one of the best investments of my time I’ve ever made.
In essence, she got me ready to function sustainably without her. She never wanted to see me again, so she taught me how to take care of things myself. She prepared me for the day when she wouldn’t be a part of my life. To be perfectly honest, I never wanted to see her again either (she was a very nice person, but I’m quite motivated to avoid pain and not spend that kind of money again).
That PT could have pushed and pulled on my back forever, never teaching me to take care of it myself. But she didn’t. She helped me to help myself.
Your job is to make sure that your team can function without you
As a manager, your job is to prepare others to function sustainably without you. You never know when you’ll want to move on, out, or up. It’s your responsibility to make sure that someone is ready to take your place, and it takes time and effort. Are you:
Developing others: Are you meeting with your staff on a regular basis to assure that they are focusing on their development and the development of those who report to them?
Mentoring others: Are you spending time with those who can use your wisdom? You have learned a lot as a leader. Are you mentoring those who have potential and need to learn what you’ve learned?
Stretching others: Developing and mentoring may not be enough for those high-flying high-potentials on your team. Are you stretching them to make sure that they have work and assignments that will challenge and engage them?
If you haven’t already, prepare others to take your place and to be sustainable when you aren’t there. It’ll be one of the best investments you’ll make.