The feeling of being unnecessary.

Should I be happy or concerned?

After my 3.5 years of leading the company, I have started feeling … unnecessary. Is it good or bad? Is it the reason for sadness or for happiness? I am not sure yet. I am trying to find out.

I love skiing. This year, I skied in the Val di Fassa region, Italy. Enjoying the sun and beautiful winter weather. And there was almost anybody around! 7 days of being offline from my company phone and email box. It doesn`t mean not thinking about my work. Actually, I was thinking, however, in a very different way than each regular workday.

In the meantime, I checked my email box twice. You know… just to see what is going on … . And what I discovered aroused mixed feelings in me. Some of my colleagues approached some issues proactively with a few brand new topics and ideas coming up. Decisions were made, targets achieved and as a result, some daily issues solved. Quite a lot of topics if you just think it has been only 1 week. And all of this has happened without me being there on site.

During my previous holidays things had been frozen rather than driven forward. This time, though, has been different.

My first thought was: I am so proud of all of my Team! Proud of taking actions, proud of making decisions but the thing I am most proud of is the fact they have taken the ownership! It makes me feel so great! This is, after all, what leadership is about. This is exactly what I have been working on for more than 3 years now!

If you feel like digging into the topic, here is how you can get it. First of all, make people competent. Secondly, make them feel competent enough (these can be two different goals). Finally, create such a kind of company DNA with sense of security that they feel safe enough to make decisions and take the responsibility!

Just after these thoughts some other got me in: do they still need me? Maybe I have already built such a Team that are already self-reliant and independent to drive forward without me?
Needless to say, pride got mixed with sadness. You may ask why? The thing is I do like contributing to our work. I do like feeling needed. I do like amazing people with ideas, initiatives and my creativity.

A leader’s role is to serve as a people – developer. A leader’s role is to ensure succession.

I find myself half-successful in this process. I have developed a Team of beasties able to drive things forward without direct and constant supervision. And then again, it is me in the process. Left with the feeling of not being at the heart of it all anymore. And here comes a huge room for improvement for me. The idea is to keep on developing your people rather than crying over yourself not being the central driving force anymore. Being mindful of their needs and pathways.

This sounds like my personal great goal for 2023: To be happy of not being needed! Sounds a bit weird, I know.

Challenge accepted!


March, 2023

“Don’t worry about people stealing your work. Worry about the day they stop.”

Jeffrey Zeldman,

Founder of A List Apart Magazine