Elon Musk SpaceX
Elon Musk denies "ruthless boss" label after story resurfaced from Vance's 2015 biography. Calls it "total nonsense." Wikimedia Commons

A story from Ashlee Vance's 2015 New York Times bestseller, "Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future," recently resurfaced, portraying the billionaire CEO as a very demanding leader. Despite helming a group of companies aiming to revolutionise the world, Musk wasted no time correcting the narrative.

Musk responded on Thursday, dismissing the story as "total nonsense." The story narrated how his assistant of 12 years Mary Beth Brown, requested a raise. In response, Musk reportedly asked her to take a two-week leave of absence instead.

He then assumed her duties during that time. Musk allegedly let her go upon her return, citing that he could manage her workload himself. Originally reported by Business Insider, this story was framed as "an important career lesson" and picked up by other outlets like Entrepreneur. Fortune even promoted the Business Insider story on its Facebook page.

While the authenticity of the story remains to be doubtful, it does put a spotlight on the hard truth that anyone can be replaced in the corporate setting. But is there a way to secure your position and that you should always be viewed as a valued asset to the company?

How To Be An Indispensable Employee

Landing a job is a fantastic accomplishment, but the real challenge starts after that first day. How do you stand out from the crowd and become an employee your company can't afford to lose? Here are ten tips from HR professionals to help you develop the skills and approach that will make you indispensable.

1) Develop Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

In today's job market, showcasing a unique skill set is key to standing out. This "Unique Selling Proposition" (USP) makes you a valuable asset to your employer. Consider developing expertise in a high-demand area like data analysis or project management. Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming industries, and developing AI skills can be a valuable asset.

To hone your skills, explore online courses, attend industry workshops, or seek mentorship from experienced colleagues.

2) Be A Collaborative Knowledge Sharer

Developing your expertise is crucial, but true value comes from sharing your knowledge and empowering others. As Jeffrey Ng, director at Michael Page International, suggests, become an "invaluable training asset" by willingly educating your team.

This collaborative approach fosters a stronger team dynamic and makes you a sought-after resource.

3) Prioritise Skill Development Over Titles

While career aspirations are important, Chris Gaborit, managing director of The Learning Factor, emphasises focusing on developing the skills needed for future roles. Mastering your current role demonstrates your dedication and allows you to progress organically. Remember, strong skills are more valuable than just a title.

4) Cultivate Relationships With Key Decision-Makers

Building strong relationships with those who influence decisions can be a powerful asset. As Chris Gaborit highlights, these relationships can not only make you indispensable in your current position but also open doors to future opportunities.

5) Demonstrate Receptiveness And Initiative

While leadership qualities are valuable, Carol Silvis, author of "101 Ways to Make Yourself Indispensable at Work," emphasises the importance of following instructions effectively.

This showcases your ability to listen, understand, and take action independently. Be bold and ask clarifying questions, but ultimately demonstrate that you can be relied upon to complete tasks with accuracy and initiative.

6) Maintain A Culture Of Respect

Building positive relationships goes beyond just those in higher positions. As Jeffrey Ng suggests, treat everyone in your workplace with genuine courtesy and consideration. You never know who you might collaborate with in the future, and fostering a positive and inclusive work environment benefits everyone.

7) Embrace Transparency And Accountability

Honesty is key. As Carol Silvis emphasises, be upfront about mistakes, missed deadlines, or misjudgments. Taking ownership and proactively seeking solutions demonstrates your commitment to learning and continuous improvement. This fosters trust and allows you to move forward constructively.

8) Be A Creative Problem Solver

Don't just wait for instructions – be a source of creative solutions! Silvis suggests avoiding complacency and proactively contributing solutions. This proactive approach demonstrates your initiative and problem-solving skills, making you a valuable asset to any team.

9) Deliver Results And Build Trust

Great ideas are just the beginning. As Jeffrey Ng highlights, showcase your work ethic and commitment by taking ownership of projects with key stakeholders and following through to achieve impactful results. This not only showcases your work ethic but also builds trust within your team.

10) Embrace Continuous Improvement

Always look for ways to streamline your work and enhance your efficiency. As Carol Silvis suggests, always optimise your workflow and boost your productivity. Demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement showcases your problem-solving skills and your dedication to the company's success.

Some large companies are exploring alternative hiring strategies in the competitive talent market. Scale AI, for example, has received attention for its focus on merit-based hiring. However, the importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives remains significant for many organisations.

Ultimately, the key to becoming indispensable lies not in following a specific hiring trend but in developing the skills and approach that make you a valuable asset to your company. By developing your unique value proposition, building strong relationships, and demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement, you can position yourself as a vital asset to any team.