Taking NotesLast week wrapped up my second session in a leadership program my employer sponsors. One of the speakers, a VP, had a number of personal experiences to share with us in regard to his leadership journey and one in particular caught my attention. Why is sustainability important for your career?

The first thing I thought of was an individual I had met at a previous employer whom was cross training me on an application. He told me that he never shares everything he knows because then he would be next on the chopping block. He really believed that holding back knowledge was power. I was young and just went along. I didn’t care what he shared or didn’t share with me, so long as I could perform and develop in my role. It got me thinking though, I wonder how many people purposely do not build their role as sustainable as it could be?

What do I mean by sustainable? The perfect example is you have done your job and done it well. You have developed documentation and maybe a wiki to support your standard operating procedures, and you’ve cross trained at least one person to the point that if you were on vacation for two weeks with no computer or network access, someone else could perform your job. Maybe not exactly like you do (I know right – you’re a genius) but they can perform the standard duties and use their own intelligence and experience to go beyond where needed. The word team comes to mind.

Why build a sustainable position for yourself? Easy. If you can’t build a sustainable position or role, you cannot get promoted or move to that new role you’ve been anxious for. The VP I mentioned earlier ran up against this scenario exactly. He was running on all cylinders, at the top of his game. Management said they were ready to offer him a promotion if he could leave his team. The problem? You guessed it. There was no one to take on his current role and it took him six months to prepare another resource for his spot before he could make the jump. He literally told the group of us that every day he now works to put himself out of the job.

Me? I completely agree. The good news for me is that I feel I have been consistently building sustainable roles throughout my career but not as sustainable as they could be. In all honestly, I love my company. They give me work, challenge me, reward me, and take care of my family and my way of living. It’s my responsibility to build a sustainable position not only for my own growth and development but for the company that takes care of me. If they put me on the chopping block, then so be it, I want them to do what’s best for the organization’s strategy. We as employees should have enough confidence and belief in ourselves in order to go after our next role.

What are your thoughts? And don’t think that this only applies to a technology career. I challenge anyone who reads this, start thinking every day about how you can make your role better, share information with others, and work to put yourself out of the job in the right way.