Making Myself Redundant

As a parent, manager and mediator, my mission has always been making myself redundant. Seem strange? Especially as I am someone that needs to be needed and as a self-employed person only earn money when people to use my services.

So why do I have this seemingly self-destructive tendency? It’s a choice between leaving a hole or leaving a legacy. We can be open gates that invite others in or barriers that limit access.

Door Half open and half barred

Gate or Barrier?

I choose helping people learn from me because it brings me and others joy and rewards. Nadine Powrie asks me more about it in this podcast

Although I have been doing it all my working life, it was only recently that I realised my mission and put it into words. It stemmed from working and volunteering with hospices and charities that work with the dying and bereaved. I decided that when I go, I don’t want to leave a hole–I want to leave a legacy.

Why making myself redundant helps me as well as others

When I suggested to another manager that he give staff more responsibility and authority, so that they worked well even when he wasn’t supervising them, he was worried.

“But, then I’ll be out of a job.”

Yes, when I teach others my skills and pass on my knowledge, they don’t need me–they can do it themselves. I am, in effect, making myself redundant. In the last three organisations in which I worked, I  designed systems and procedures so I wasn’t needed, and passed on the knowhow to manage them to others. Yes, I designed myself out of several jobs–on the other hand, before I finished each job, someone else had offered me another.

Despite continually making myself redundant, there are always challenges and opportunities. I have never been short of recommendations, gratitude and offers of work.

A parent’s job is to help their kids not need them

When our kids are young, we need to teach them how to do things themselves. If we didn’t, they would need us forever.

While everyone sees the need to teach kids how to feed themselves, walk and talk, some parents are reluctant to let their kids be independent or move away, tying them financially or emotionally. Others want to solve all their kids’ problems. Teaching our kids how to manage loss, frustration and disappointment is far more important than continually trying to manage it for them. Giving our kids knowledge and skills will help them far more than giving them money or things. Money and things don’t last, skills do.

Statistically, we are more likely to die before our kids. If we love them, we need to be sure they can manage without us. If we can let them fly while we are still there to support them, they learn critical skills safely.

As a parent, my kids don’t need me any longer–they are both in careers they love, managing their relationships and finances. Yet they still love coming home and talking on the phone. If they ask for advice, it’s not because they want it, it’s because they want me to listen while they figure it out for themselves–and then to hear me say “sounds like you’ve got it sorted.”

A leader’s job is to enable people to do it themselves

The most effective leaders are often the least visible.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”
Lao Tzu 

The quote above is counter-intuitive (aka sounds stupid) in a world where we are told to shout our worth (Read more here). We all want recognition, yet however great we are, we are mortal. If we make ourselves redundant, others can carry on our work. If we don’t our mission/business/cause will sicken and die when we do. Change is inevitable–the recent pandemic has shown how quickly normal can disappear.

The rewards of making myself redundant

I get a real buzz from helping people make the best of their circumstances and relationships–I like being the “wind beneath the wings”.

In midwifery, I helped mothers to have a positive birth experience and gain the confidence to care for their babies without depending on “specialists” like me. Seeing them nurture their children gave me a warm glow and the knowledge that a little bit of my

In the academic world, I designed and disseminated tools for organisations to carry out their goals more effectively.

In our own business, I translated customers wishes into projects like books, study guides & promotional literature, as well as developing our staff and the business.

Since selling our business, I’ve worked with charities, social enterprises and private companies; setting up or improving their processes and teams, and/or easing the change process.

As a mediator and conflict management coach, I help people find their voice AND their ears. I work to make myself redundant by enabling people to find the solution themselves–there is always another challenge out there.