“If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely.”
― Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
What is a “linchpin”?
A linchpin doesn’t play it safe. The future is filled with uncertainty and as Seth Godin’s quote points out, by playing it safe you are denying yourself possibilities. It may be difficult to stay motivated or focused because it’s such a long time-frame, but taking ownership of our own destiny really isn’t as hard as we may think.
We published a great series about managing small teams which described leadership as an expedition with no map or proof that the destination exists. While paying attention to priorities, data, rhythm, and the workplan of your team will help point you in the right direction, we believe that you and your team should also strive to become a linchpin within the organization.
So what makes a team or department a linchpin within an organization?
Be an ExpertTeams, like individuals, have an IQ. The collective skills and knowledge of the team allows it to satisfy all the needs of the organization. As the organization feels pressure to change from both internal & external forces, departments & teams need to gain the knowledge necessary to keep ahead of and navigate those pressures.
Overcome FearYour organization needs to be ready and willing to change. As humans, we’re wired to maintain habits. We find it scary to learn new technology or change our day-to-day processes. How you & your team confront that fear will dictate how well your organization can weather changing market forces.
Become an ArtistArtists are passionate. They love what they do. They find ways to immerse themselves in the projects they work on. As a rule, artists don’t follow rules - and they definitely don’t wait for instruction. In other words, they have initiative to find new things to work on.
Be GenerousLinchpins know that they are just one part of their organization. They work with other teams, departments, figureheads, and even other organizations to reach their goals. By recognizing their strengths as well as the strengths of others, linchpins increase collaboration and achieve a more stable, objective growth.
Hopefully this gives you a good sense of the elements of being a linchpin. Over the course of the next few weeks, my team members will be writing about each of the elements. (That’s me being generous and recognizing that my team members have better insight into certain topics than I.)
As we write, I need to ask a favor. We’d love to hear some stories about linchpin teams to help make our next few posts amazing. Share some feedback, below in the comments, and we’ll use it to inform the rest of this series.