During my childhood my mother always used to say “you have to study well and get first rank for occupying high positions in a company”; I don’t think it would have been different for any one of you. As the last child in a family of eleven, I used to observe my eldest brother almost 15 years elder to me studying in premium colleges for his pre-university and medicine thereafter. My father being a doctor of medicine, he wanted his first child also to become a doctor. Every parent without exception want their child to become a photo copy of them or become someone which they have missed to become!! If I wanted to become a singer and for some reasons I could not, I would push my child into a music class while he or she wanted to learn dancing!
Another aspect that drives our life is “Fear of social disapproval” as psychology describe it as one of the mental blocks that haunt the modern civilization. We want to “Look good” in the eyes of the people around at the cost of “Feeling good”. Sukabodananda in his book “Oh Life relax please” has written a real life incidence to illustrate this folly.
A girl while travelling in a bus had suddenly experienced pain in her leg which was increasing and spreading all over her body. She was shy of checking it out in public as to what was going wrong and hurriedly walked to her house to check it out. While just entering her house gate she fell dead and later it was found that a black scorpion which was in her garment was biting her to death. Looking good in front of everyone appeared more than her life itself. She could have chosen to check what was biting in the public that would have save her life.
This real incident reveals that all of us live for the society’s opinion "to look good" than our own feelings. All parents without exception wish to drive their children crazy more to look good in the eyes of the society rather than empower their off-springs to develop their stature to become successful leaders in the future. We are misguided to accumulate knowledge rather than learn the art of taking people along for a common goal.
One common sub-conscious level programme all our parents have written is “If you study in a premium institution and get ranks in your education, you will earn more money!” We cannot blame our parents since after all they did the same their parents have taught them. Unfortunately, education is only an insignificant part of our active ingredients for success in our career. A study conducted in the US has revealed that 85% of the great business leaders of corporate are neither from premium B-schools nor rank holders. This raises the question where the rank holders have gone? They have grown up to certain levels in the corporate ladder and reached their level of incompetency.
Please don’t get me wrong as if I am discouraging education and scoring high percentage or grades. All that I am trying to impress upon you is that - there is something more than education and degree that play an important role in our success. The question I wish to raise and answer in this article is:
What is the active ingredient for succeeding in the corporate world?
Is it education or stature?
Is it education or stature?
In my consulting career I meet many successful CEOs and business leaders on a daily basis. When I meet them, one thought always linger in my mind is “How they superseded many to reach where they are?” What is that active ingredient for success - Is it their education or intelligence or hard work or relationship building or people management skills; what is it? One common characteristic I observed in them is - they are as common people as all of us are. Then how they made their way up? The question comes to our mind is why many of us with academic excellence still get stuck with certain levels in the corporate ladder. Let me try and elaborate the tips for successful leadership:
Going Extra Mile:
Whenever we are asked to do anything in life, all human beings without exception think of the paradigm “WIIFM” – an acronym for “what is there in it for me?” We wanted to check it out before accepting responsibilities – what are we going to get out of it? Due to this syndrome we are not able to accept any larger responsibilities beyond our functional domain. Many a time when we are asked to take a responsibility beyond our job description, we resent it saying that “it is not my job”. We refuse to “go that extra mile” as we are not certain of the rewards. Unfortunately, the responsibility precedes the recognition!
I want to share an anecdote from my life:
“Lourdswamy joined as driver of my car 8 years ago and still serves me as a guardian of my cars, care taker of my pet, errand boy for getting groceries, attendant in my office while I have no visits, my personal assistant for my daily chores and many more. In his 8 years tenure he never came a minute late, took off without notice, made me to search for him while I finished my days work with my clients or made a scratch or dent in my cars. He always went beyond his functional boundaries and added significance to my career by playing the role Lord Krishna played as a charioteer for Arjuna.
The interesting aspect of Lourd is (I don’t wish to call him 'driver'), he never went that extra mile for the sake of reward. May be due to his un-assuming nature I took care of all his needs like buying a property, a two wheeler, his children's education, paying his insurance and so on”.
Being a business excellence consultant I play a role in enrolling people for improving the products and processes of my clients. As a change agent one major issue I face is people don’t want to passionately involve in solving their company problems. The question that haunts their mind is “WIIFM” - what is there in it for me?
One of the characteristics of a successful person is to develop a mindset to take responsibility when the reward is not clear. Paradoxically the reward is guaranteed if we perform by giving 100% of ourselves without the pre-occupation of the rewards. All business leaders who have reached the pinnacle of corporate ladder had done this. With a limited education Lourd did it and grown in his career too!!
Self esteem & self-confidence:
During my tenure as technology leader I came across a Bengali boy who joined my team as a graduate engineer trainee (GET) who was looking very thin and wearing a glass with high power. I have always seen him cutting jokes upon himself which revealed his low self esteem. Once I suggested him to demonstrate one of our new products for a video presentation. He strongly opposed my suggestion saying that he looks ugly to stand in front of the camera and his English is horrible. I could vividly see his ability while his own self esteem was pathetic. He was in a state “One who knows not that he knows is sleeping” whom the mentor has to wake him up! In order to show his ability to himself I ordered him to do the demo which he eventually did. To his surprise when he saw the video he understood that his self confidence was low due to his self esteem and not due to his lack of ability.
Psychology says that our expression of our personality is a function of what we think about ourselves which is termed as self esteem. Our self image is a function of our sub conscious programmes which is a result of our childhood experiences. Some of us feel good about what we are and some of us feel inadequate and feel empty inside. If I feel that I am dark in complexion, short in height and my nose could have been shorter and so on, I feel inadequate and empty. Due to my internal emptiness I manifest behaviour of attention seeking or displaying lack of self confidence and so on. Any amount of my education is not going to be of any help in making me as a resource when I feel inadequate inside. People who succeeded in the corporate world are the ones who challenged these paradigms by constant practice.
Will continue for a few more weeks. Look forward to sharing more insights on this topic.