Sharing information is a strength not a weakness. Being indispensable is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Indispensable is indefensible

Being indispensable seems quite appealing in many ways. You fulfill a role that your business cannot possibly function without. You have a job that is secure, rewarding and attracts respect from your colleagues.

This position does not come easily. It requires hard work, unwavering attention and a watchful eye on those who envy your success. Sharing information means that you are no longer the ‘go to guy’ when the brown stuff hits the fan. You must guard the knowledge you have worked so hard to acquire. Hiding it from those people who would seek to replace you. Striving for success is a noble objective – as long as it’s not at your colleagues’ expense.

It’s better to be a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.Confucius, 551 BC

But perhaps there is no need for concern. After all, we cannot replace the irreplaceable. I once worked with someone who thought he was indispensable. He was a talented guy with a hunger to build a bigger and better career for himself. The problem was that he had nowhere to go. If you are irreplaceable then you’re stuck where you are. A victim of your own indispensability. I told him that I could not move him for fear of leaving a hole that could not be filled. Luckily, he took the hint and became a valuable team member.

Sharing information avoids single points of failure

Today, I help to build bespoke software. Wherever possible we create self sufficient teams. Groups of people that have all the skills to deliver a quality service. If someone is ill or on holiday, we cover for them. If someone is struggling a little with a new technology, we help them.

We avoid single points of failure – any task only a single team member can perform. If this happens, our specialist educates the team. Everyone benefits from sharing information – especially our customers. In this way, we build teams rather than superstars.

Sharing what we know makes us all stronger. When we help others, they are more eager to reciprocate. Next time you solve a particularly challenging problem, share your wisdom with the team. Because sharing knowledge is the best way to acquire it.