Part of the fun of working for a great agency is being encouraged to think. Here are some of the things we’re thinking about.

Are you a linchpin? How to go from a mediocre employee to a great one

July 22, 2015 Bradford Group Administrator

Linchpin: Are You IndispensableHiring has been a hot topic for discussion lately within the walls of the Bradford Group. One of the many great aspects of being a small agency is our company’s transparency. We all participate in the hiring process by meeting with each candidate after he or she successfully navigates the first round interview with Jeff and Gina. Because our work often lends itself to collaboration, we want someone who gels with us overall. As our company moves forward, we want to ensure we hire someone who not only fits our company values and culture, but also someone who is poised to help propel us into the next stage of growth.

As we discussed what we are looking for in a potential new groupie, I found myself referring back to what I learned from the book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin.

In the book, Godin argues that simply showing up for work, doing your job and going home at the end of the day is not good enough in today’s society. When new technology seems to replace people at every turn, keeping your job requires more. He argues you need to become a linchpin—or indispensable to your company.

So what does that mean? Here are a few key takeaways to mull over.

Be different

While this may seem unnecessary, we can easily slip into a monotonous routine—wash, rinse, repeat. Go to work, do your job, hit the clock, go home. But, if you truly want to make a difference in your company falling into the same ole routine isn’t the path to success. In fact, Godin says it is the opposite of becoming indispensable. He goes as far to say that we’ve been indoctrinated since grade school with the mentality to simply go along, to get along and simply do as we are told to fit in. Here are the messages Godin says schools are sending to children:

  • Fit in
  • Follow instructions
  • Use #2 pencils
  • Show up everyday
  • Don’t ask questions
  • Don’t challenge authority
  • Do the minimum amount required so you’ll have time to work on other subjects
  • Get into college
  • Have a good resume
  • Don’t fail, “A’s” are good, “F’s” are bad
  • Be a generalist

Now, I don’t know about your school experience, but mine was very similar to the overall theme Godin describes. I attended a public high school in Richmond, VA. While on the newspaper staff, we wrote a few articles, with the approval of our teacher, that went against the grain of the school’s viewpoints and it caused an uproar. So instead of celebrating—or at the very least, welcoming a separate viewpoint—our creativity and willingness to lightly challenge authority, we were punished for it.

That mentality of staying the path can often bleed into our careers, causing us not to step out onto a ledge or take risks. But that won’t help you become indispensable. You have to be open to failure, if you truly want to succeed. On your way to becoming indispensable, you will fail, and fail often, but that’s okay. Your biggest successes can come from some of your biggest failures. Even Thomas Edison said, “I didn’t fail. I just found 10,000 ways how not to make a light bulb.”

Becoming indispensable will require you to step outside the box, bring new ideas to the table and maybe even challenge authority. Just the thought of doing so may cause you fear, but fear not! Godin says linchpins are not fearless; instead they acknowledge the fear and then proceed.

Becoming a linchpin

The best part about becoming indispensable is that it’s a learned skill, so the opportunity is open to anyone. You just have to be willing to take the lead and create your own path. Have a destination in mind, but don’t be so focused on it that you become blind to other alternatives that could have better outcomes. One common roadblock on the path to becoming indispensable is realizing that you don’t have to be a genius to prove your value to a company. Instead, Godin argues that while a depth of knowledge and good judgment are important, a true linchpin doesn’t have to be the smartest person in the room, it is the person who can walk into chaos, create order and make things happen.

Are you indispensable?

While no organization should rely solely on one person (I mean, that person could never take a vacation), the qualities of a linchpin are desirable. Because we are a small agency, every person here has the opportunity to be a direct part of the company’s success now and in the future. As we search for the newest groupie, we will be looking for someone who possesses indispensable qualities. Is that you?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *