“If you got hit by a bus” leadership model

In his wonderful leadership book gls-book-cover-its-your-shipIt’s Your Ship (one of my all time favorites), Captain Michael Abrashoff talks frequently about building his bench two, three, and four sailors deep that made his ship more combat ready, while at the same time creating new opportunities for his dedicated crew.  In team sports, the teams that often have excellent depth are the teams that are the most successful.

A very common problem in organizations is when members hoard their knowledge and skills.  Whether the motivations are a lack of trust, lack of direction, being territorial, or not being asked, this lack of transferring institutional knowledge creates a major gap in organizational performance when this person is absent or leaves the organization.

In one month, a science department on Miami University’s campus lost 90 years of experience between a 50 year and a 40 year administrative staff members retiring!  The 50-year employee represents almost 25% of Miami’s history as an institution. How in the world can you replace this institutional knowledge?  Can you even expect to?  Can you get close?

Over the years, I have tried to practice and encourage with my staff a model called “If you got hit by a bus…what would happen?”  The premise is that if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, have I trained an individual or team enough that my role could be filled without drop off?

Others may disagree, but I believe someone INCREASES their value to an organization by sharing their learning, their experiences, their wisdom.  When you increase your value, you increase your sphere of influence and ability to serve.

If we are good parents, don’t we strive to follow this model?  Think about it.  We are teaching our children our values and our experiences.  We are trying to leave a wonderful legacy for our children to learn from.  As an extreme example, don’t we want to tell our children we love them every chance we get, in case we don’t get to see them again?

One of the reasons I started this blog was to have a journal….a legacy of sorts sharing some of my thoughts and memories.  Think of ways you can document what you want to pass on.  Whether you realize it or not, every action we take is making an impact somehow in the world.  Don’t be afraid to share your amazing, unique gifts with the world!

Thank you for reading.  Tell me something you shared recently and good luck building your bench!



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