If your business closed today, who would care and why? That is your purpose.
This quote from Cynthia Montgomery of the Harvard Business School recently caught my attention during some training in strategy I was completing as part of my career with HCA. It is a great question for any business to ask, as it distills the very reason that the business exists. If no one–not customers, employees, suppliers–would miss the business if it closed, what real purpose is it fulfilling?
I think that the question can have a broader context, however, especially for leaders. What if every leader asked themselves: “If I left my company today, who would care and why?” What would your answer be?
What if the answer was that no one would miss you as a leader? What does that imply about your value as a leader to your team, specifically, and the organization as a whole? What if the answer to the question is that the business cannot survive without you?
Neither question above can be viewed as positive. If no one will miss you, then you are not having the impact on your team and organization that your leadership position demands and expects of you. Conversely, if the organization will not survive without your leadership, then you have done a poor job of developing your team and at succession planning.
As leaders we are asked to create value for our teams and organizations on a daily basis. We are asked to perform in such a way that many people would care–for the right reasons–if we were no longer in our current roles. We are also asked, however, to prepare for the day when we are no longer in our current role through team development and succession planning.
It is a balancing act that is the key to both your development as a leader as well as the ongoing success of the organization you are serving.