How to Make Sure Your Boss Thinks You're Essential to The Team

Make yourself indispensable to your clients and employers. You’ve heard it before. But we live in a fast paced, global economy. And it’s  easier and faster than ever to replace a talented individual. This means it’s harder than ever before to become indispensable. There’s an easier way that doesn’t involve being a super talented genius.

You don’t need to be indispensable to be indispensable. You need merely to hold the only set of keys to essential elements of ongoing business.

The Problem With The Indispensable Argument

Even if you are indispensable, do your clients really believe that?

Companies large and small fire people all the time without knowing how critical they were to the business. People are irrational. And if so motivated, they’ll fire you even at considerable harm to their business. It’s not enough to be indispensable, you need to back it up with strong, material leverage.

What is material leverage?

In business terms, material leverage in business terms is an assisted advantage that exists outside of yourself but is perceived by others. The principle is simple. You legitimately own or control the linchpin of an ongoing transaction, or business and use it to influence terms of an engagement.

Examples include effective control over partnerships, pipelines, websites, apps, platforms, or databases. Or perhaps you have contacts that are essential to the other party’s operations.

Strong vs. Weak vs. No Leverage

The key to understanding the power of leverage usually rests on the amount of time, energy and attention required to replace whatever linchpin you own or control. The more time required, the more powerful the leverage.

No or Weak Leverage

If the resource that you own or control can be easily replaced in a day, you effectively have no leverage. If there is a whole marketplace full of easy alternatives, or the perception of one, you have no effective leverage or at best weak leverage.

Perception is more powerful than the reality. If the other party doesn’t perceive or understand the leverage, they won’t respond to your influence over it.

Strong Leverage

A good measure of strong leverage is if its value is worth more than your annual salary or fee. If your leverage is perceived to be worth 5x your fee, then they will likely bend your way. Not doing so would risk costing them considerably more. That’s strong leverage.

When & How to Use it

Basically if someone isn’t paying their tab, trying to cut you out, or you feel you’re about to be fired, strong material leverage can come into play.

Step 1. You have to decide what your goal is.

Are you trying to use your influence to keep a good deal going and growing, or is it time for you to cut ties? Decide now.

Step 2. Let them hear the branch creak.

Use your leverage as influence to resolve issues and negotiate, not to bully anyone. Do this by letting those involved hear the branch creak. This means to hint just enough of your potentially hazardous move to cause them to rethink their course of action.

If your goal is to keep things going, then you need to think of the use of strong leverage as more of a dance. It’s not a battle, it’s about keeping the appropriate amount of tension and pressure to move with your partner.

If the goal is to keep profitable engagements going as long as possible, don’t wield your leverage like a sword in battle. You may feel superior to the other party in the moment but you’ll lose the value of ongoing transactions with those involved in the process.

This is a more subtle art. The other party needs to hear the branch creak and contemplate their own peril. You need merely hint at your leverage and let them worry about perilous outcomes.

Remember, leverage only works if they and you both stay in the tree.

Step 3. Make the corrective action clearly known.

If you’re too aggressive, the other party may see no path forward and impulsively jump out of the tree on their own. They need to hear both the branch creak and know the corrective solution to make it stop.

Cutting Ties

If you decide to cut ties, the first move is usually not to pull the rug out from anyone. A longer exit, is often more profitable. Leverage allows you to negotiate the terms of an exit. You may have the other party simply pay you to keep your resources in play. This is more amenable as it buys everyone time to decide what to do next.

No one likes being under someone else’s thumb. But leverage buys you a seat at the table and an engaged audience, ensuring you can be heard out. Tread softly and carry a big stick.

Big Tech Companies with Diversity Problems Get Named Top for Diversity

A new study from Comparably, a company that focuses on gathering compensation and cultural data about employers, recently named top companies for diversity. Many of the top 25 big companies were in the tech sector. Which seems odd because such companies on the list as Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Microsoft have published their own diversity data that doesn’t seem particularly diverse overall.

A lack of diversity can hurt companies in many ways, to say nothing of individuals and society. And tech companies have made headway by having at least some institutional focus on the issue.

Tech has faced particularly strong and public criticism over the years. Many of the biggest names began publishing their diversity statistics in a move to be more transparent. A lot of data is available through government-collected statistics, so keeping it under wraps wasn’t possible in any case.

There has been some improvement over the years, but if you look at some of the numbers now, while they have shown improvement over time, there’s a long way to go. Here are some examples of areas that seem problematic.

  • At Facebook, the percentage of women in the company globally is 35 percent, with the number of women in tech at 19 percent and 28 percent in management. Hispanics are 5 percent while Blacks are 3 percent.
  • Google is 69 percent male overall with U.S. employees including 2 percent Black, and 4 percent Latino.
  • Two-thirds of managers at Amazon in the U.S. are white and globally 75 percent are male. Overall, the company is 61 percent male. In this country, Blacks represent 21 percent of employees but only 5 percent of management.
  • HubSpot is 40 percent women and 32 percent of managers are female. It’s very skewed to the young, with 60 percent between 26 and 35, 29 percent from 16 to 25, 8 percent 36 to 45, and 3 percent from 46 up.
  • Globally, 39 percent of Intuit is made of women but only 29 percent of technical positions and 32 percent of leadership. In the U.S., Blacks are 3 percent, Latinos are 8 percent, and Native Americans, 1 percent.
  • LinkedIn is 42 percent female overall, but women make up 21 percent of technical positions and are 38 percent of leadership. In the U.S., 61 percent of employees are White, 31 percent Asian, 4 percent Latino, and 1 percent Black.
  • Globally, Microsoft is 25.9 percent female; tech is 19 percent while leadership is 19.1 percent. In the U.S., Whites are 56.2 percent; Asians, 31.3 percent; Latinos, 5.9 percent; Blacks, 4 percent.
  • About a year ago, Pinterest announced some significant progress in hiring women and minorities, but then said it would only maintain previous goals and, in the case of hiring women into tech positions, reduce them.

Such patterns were consistent at Salesforce, Square, and others. And yet, all of these companies were considered among the best for diversity.

Basing results on surveys, as Comparably apparently did, rather than on a mix of employee opinion and data, can offer skewed results. Employees express personal opinions and the results depend on the sampling.

Those perceptions, although useful in analysis, aren’t enough for a clear look at how a company is doing. They can depend on such factors as the person’s identification with the job and conditions at the given location in which they work. Also, ratings are “best” in comparison and not necessarily good in any objective sense.

In any case, given the state of diversity throughout tech, no one in the industry should take any comfort from Comparably’s list.