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On my reading list in the near future is a book by Seth Godin called “Linchpin”.  The book’s thesis is that there are people who become indispensable parts of an organization or project, and encourages people to become a linchpin to improve the vitality of their organization, and also their career paths.

I have to admit, I did that and here I am with Tom Patros leading Red Argyle into its next phase of evolution. Being the linchpin has allowed me to build a great team and have a stream of successful projects, basically do more than I ever imagined.

But here’s the rub – with my baby on the way, and impending paternity leave, I started to see a problem.  If I removed myself from the equation while being the linchpin, there’s going to be challenges.  Being the linchpin, I’m an indispensable part of too many operations.  Being the linchpin is good, but with many things, there can be too much of a good thing.

So, over the past several months, my personal goal has been to “Unlinchpin” myself as much as possible and start raising up new leaders from within the company (and bringing in some great talent from outside).  When I started doing this, it was with hesitation.  I felt like I was being lazy and delegating things to other people.  But then I noticed something.  By transitioning things over to my team great things happened.  Namely:

People have a chance to shine.  By challenging people with taking new and increased responsibilities, we are giving them a chance to expand and grow into a new, bigger skin.

The company becomes stronger.  By sharing the load more effectively, more people have their “hands in the pot”.  This gives us more options when managing projects, as more people are in a position to help effectively.  If one person’s on vacation, another knowledge expert can fill the ranks and keep things moving along.  When I go out on leave, my projects will be covered.

I am finding new things to become the linchpin for.  Just like the staff is being given new responsibilities, I am finding new ones for myself.  Bigger ones, more strategic ones, and responsibilities that will continue to challenge me and help the company grow.  I am now spending more time doing the things that I do best, which is the best for me, Red Argyle, and our team.

These realizations have been some of the hardest to understand over the past few months, but in retrospect sound so simple.  While becoming the linchpin is important, passing the torch when it’s time is even more so.  One person can only take on so much, and you can’t move forward without leaving something behind, best to use that as an opportunity to help someone else grow.  Where are you in your linchpin journey?  Is there anything that you can pass the torch on to a team member and allow yourself to grow?  Would love to hear your story in the comments!


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