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Are You a Linchpin?

I recently finished the book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin. Great book. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

While most business books I’ve read don’t really introduce new concepts (I know my blog doesn’t really either), the really good ones get me to focus on the important things I’ve been missing, or some areas for improvement, generally in leadership. This book falls into that same category and reinforces some important concepts we’ve all learned in the past, but does put a different perspective, in my opinion, on the mindset the Linchpin has while doing her work. She’s an artist, and is “giving” away her art, or, in my opinion, her gifts and strengths to an organization and those it serves. It’s just who she is – she is going to do a great job and not keep score, and make sure she leaves those she serves better off for having interacted with her. Keeping score – “They don’t pay me enough”, “I’m not appreciated”, or “They overwork me” – can be very tiring and generally leaves the score keeper not feeling better for the experience.

I ran into a Linchpin last night at dinner. I had a candidate for a search fly in from out of state to have dinner with me and an associate of mine, before meeting with my client today. We met at Hanna’s in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, a great little restaurant run by Dave Hanna. While it hadn’t dawned on me before, the service has always been excellent, and the staff, from the greeters to the waiters, has always been extremely cheerful and accommodating, no matter how busy they were at the time. Last night, I ordered something not on the menu that they didn’t have an ingredient for (I know, I’m high maintenance). When Jessie, the server, mentioned they didn’t have that in the back and it would take a few moments, I said not to worry about it. She quickly replied, “No, we’ll get that for you. The market is close and we’ll send somebody out.” Wow! I can’t recall that happening anytime recently, and can probably count on 1 finger (or less) how many times that’s happened before. When I commented on her service level, she said Dave has a rule that they serve their customers and most requests can be accommodated if they go out of their way (I’m paraphrasing here, Jessie, if you’re reading this). Why can’t we all just say “yes” when a request that can be accommodated is made?

Jessie is a Linchpin, and I suspect Dave is lucky enough to have more than one working for him. In fact, it might be his leadership that attracts and encourages that type of mentality in his company. We are lucky enough to have a few Linchpins at McDermott & Bull too, and we really, really appreciate their extra efforts to serve one another and the customer.

After my dinner, I went to a presentation by Kevin Hall at a conference called Performance Breakthrough. He mentioned a concept we talk about from time to time and that is having passion in ones’ job. As he discussed it, I kept thinking of the word “purpose”, which has always given me passion.

If I’m working on my purpose, I can be passionate about what I’m doing and the work I’m doing doesn’t feel like work. I think the greatest job of all, the Dream Job, is the one that doesn’t feel like work. It’s the job I would do for free. Linchpins approach their work like this, and from an artist’s perspective, it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to carry out the job they do everyday – and it’s not work!

Let’s all go out and be Linchpins in what we do – it sounds like a blast!

Please send us your comments and let’s get the best ideas out to our readers.

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