How I Learned not to be Indispensable

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About ten months into my new job at a media marketing firm, the Company acquired a broadcasting license and became the very first private television station to be registered in the Country. It was an exciting time. In addition to dramatically increasing the Company revenue through a new marketing strategy, I had also advised the Company's legal team on how to re-negotiate the bulk airtime purchase contract with our broadcast partners. When we rolled out the alternative syndicated television network, I was a natural choice to head up the negotiations with ten partner television stations selected nationwide.


When the television license arrived, I was offered the role of Programmes Manager but we were still transitioning and had staff shortages so I occasionally handled production as well. A new marketing Manager had not been named so one day, I found myself drafted back into marketing to temporarily address the financial situation by leading up some sales activities. I asked my Boss why this was happening and he asked me to speak to the Chairman who told me (in response to my observation that I was very busy in the new Programmes Department): "You know, there is a belief that if you have something urgent to do, you should give it to a busy person. You will despatch this assignment quickly because you are used to being busy. If I give the assignment to someone who is not busy, they will stretch the work out to fill the time available and I cannot afford that luxury". So I got on with it. After a few meetings, we sealed a couple of deals that brought in big cheques to address the cash lag and I went back to Programmes. Then I applied to take some time off for my annual leave. Instead of the approval I was expecting, I was once again asked to see the Chairman. Walking into his office, I found the Group Managing Director (who was my Boss) was with him. To cut a long story short, I was told they could not approve my leave because the Company depended on me too much at that time. So I went back to my office and continued working at the three jobs: Programmes, Production and Marketing, wearing whichever hat was most required at the time. About six weeks and two more deferred applications later, I found myself sitting in the office of the Company Chairman, retrieving some data from a Computer in a corner of his office while he had a quick conversation with another Senior Executive from a different Company within the group. His words made my head spin: "You know, Tom (not real name), when I worked as with Lloyds and Banks Consulting (not real name), whenever I went into a Company as a Receiver, the first thing I would do is look for the indispensable person in the Company: The person everyone believes the Company cannot do without. I would identify that person and fire him! " . "He is the bottle-neck" He went on the explain.


After I returned to my office, I had a long conversation with myself and decided put in my application for the third time. This time, I did not give them a chance to refuse. I put a copy on my Boss' desk and took the original application letter to the Chairman's office. As I sat in front of him, I said: "I would like to go on leave sir. I understand that a lot depends on me but I have decided not to be indispensable anymore". It took a moment for the penny to drop and then he laughed and signed off on my application. By the time I returned from leave three weeks later, a new Production Manager was in place and a Marketing Manager had been named. Who knew?

This is the concluding part of an article published on LinkedIn. Read the first part here

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Last Updated on Thursday, 19 January 2017 19:29
Written by Funmilola Babalola

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