If you're not regularly mining and collecting blocks and going on adventures, you probably know someone who is. With 74 million active users, Minecraft is one of the world's most popular games. It's no surprise that Microsoft wanted in and purchased the game franchise for $2.5 billion in 2014.

Every month, 20 percent of the United States general population plays Minecraft. In a recent interview with Quartz at Work, Minecraft's studio head, Helen Chiang, shared her thoughts about leadership and work -- including her support for extended parental leave and paid sabbaticals.

The rationale behind making yourself replaceable

In the interview, Chiang shared the most important piece of leadership advice she's ever received: "To always surround yourself with people smarter than you, and make yourself replaceable."

This might seem counterintuitive. Shouldn't you strive to become that unicorn of an employee who is mission critical to your organization's success?

Not at all. Chiang thinks there's a problem with that mentality.

"The best advice I've ever gotten is that great leaders are replaceable--they're constantly developing people and investing in training someone else to take their place," says Chiang.

You should want to keep growing too. If you've made yourself irreplaceable -- ensuring no one but you can do this particular job -- then you'll be in a tough place when you're ready to move on.

Never be the smartest person in the room

Chiang goes on to explain that people who are threatened by the intelligence, expertise, or skills of others can never be truly great leaders.

If you're worried about your peers or lower-level employees replacing you one day, then you'll put all your energy into the wrong things. You'll care more about keeping your job safe than providing mentorship or helping others grow. If you're the only person who can do your job, then you've failed as a leader. Empower others to learn to lead.

Start by thinking about how you'd answer this prompt: Name four people whose careers you have fundamentally improved. A true leader will respond with the names of individuals no one really knows, likely people they mentored or managed.

A weak leader will give you names of influential people -- recognizable individuals in the industry they may have worked with in the past. These people are more concerned with projecting their own influence than they are with helping others grow.

That's the difference between someone who is a true leader and someone who's just in it for the title. Which one do you want to be?

Published on: Aug 8, 2018
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