bare essence

November 15, 2017

development of a positive attitude

Many managers complain about politics in the organization-groups, favouritism, bootlicking, cloak and dagger techniques et al. Politics is part of the game—whenever more than two people are gathered, and work together, there is the possibility of politics. But to keep complaining about it and blame politics for the slowness of your own progress, is sheer immaturity. It is like the cricketer complaining about the field, the pitch, the rains, and the ball. One has to accept that power and politics in the workplace are inevitable. Therefore you need to develop a positive attitude, and train yourself to manage the environment. The successful understand where and how politics flourish. They understand the concept of power, and also reach for it. One need not always have the ability to climb on the backs of others with spiked shoes. Those who reach the top by doing this, generally do not last long there; or they remain there, unhappy and discontent, till they reach the finishing line. And after the line, when all the fawning is over, they are alone and friendless for the rest of their lives.

1225art of managing self

It is the ability to plan your self-development in an organized way, to see that you are always updated in your field, to be able to assess yourself at regular intervals, to check whether you are moving forward or are stagnant or even worse, moving backward compared to others. Your job security in the 21st century is in your own hands. No one else can help you. Many forget that the minimum condition necessary for achievement is energy, coupled with constructive goals and ambitions. Loyalty to the leader, to the company, and to the assignment will not protect you, as much as loyalty to yourself—not in a selfish, overpowering way, but in a manner of investing in yourself with continuous learning.

ability to manage others

To be able to motivate people without fear or favor. Great motivators set a good example, recognize achievement, build enthusiasm, share credit and praise, and reward fairly. This is all easy to write about and talk about but it is difficult to find executives who are real motivators. It is for this reason that most employees repeat the plaintive cry of the women of Jerusalem, “We, the uninformed; working for the inaccessible; doing the impossible; for the ungrateful!”

ability to understand change

We now live in a world where the pace of change is rapid. A good indicator is the four-yearly Olympic games. Records are broken most times, by those who are younger and better. Most of us no longer use travel agents for bookings; do not touch the tap for water at the wash basin, or even for soap; depend more on the mobile or TV for news; use net banking for all transactions; and do not join a company for life like our parents did. We need to be aware of and react to this volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world, if we want to move ahead. Those who do not will fall by the wayside.

ability to keep calm

To be able to accept defeat, to lose gracefully, and to win graciously. To develop a balanced attitude where self-esteem does not erode completely with a few disappointments. In a VUCA world, you have to remember that you win some and lose some. There have to be times when your opponent also deserves to win! And you will see many on the escalator across, who are going up, when you are perhaps on your way down. It helps to remember that Abraham Lincoln lost eight elections before winning the final and most critical one—as President of the US. Lincoln had a large reserve of inner strength.

make values and ethics the foundation of work life

There is the increasing challenge of romance in the workplace; of corruption in the corporate world, accompanied by as much or more in government; of adopting the stance that all is fair in love and war and in business. Thankfully, most managers still prefer to stand by accepted principles and values and a code of ethics. Even in India, there are role models like Narayana Murthy and Azim Premji just like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in the US, who follow the eight basic attitudes listed out by Cyrus Vance in his book, Manager Today, Executive Tomorrow.

network, do not try to ride alone

Again, the VUCA world will ensure that you just cannot manage alone. Narayana Murthy has this sage advice: get people around you who know what you do not know, and perhaps, more than you know. It is the age of networking. The days of ‘I can do it all’ are over. Choosing the right talent to invite or reach out to requires much talent and great humility. Both these qualities make for a solid foundation for success of a future CEO.

do not be just CEO, be a trustee

A CEO casts a shadow across the organization, different shadows from different sources of light.

Becoming number one in an organization is also a responsibility. A CEO is a trustee of all the resources involved—men, money, and materials. He or she is also responsible for the company’s relationships with all the shareholders. He or she should seek to fulfill this duty in a quiet, dignified fashion. Unfortunately, some CEOs fall into the trap of resorting to too much PR. Swanson, CEO of Raytheon, gives this advice, “You can’t polish a sneaker. It’s unproductive to spend time improving something high on style but short of substance.” What is really needed is large doses of human and conceptual skills, much beyond technical skills. It is lonely at the top. All CEOs must have the ability not only to accept but also enjoy the ‘aloneness’.

plan for a new beginning, after the end. Towards a second career

One must be able to play a significant part and then depart (gracefully). It should be when people ask ‘why?’, not ask ‘when?’. All this means managing succession, and training one or more potential successors. It means planning for one’s own differential disengagement (not just retirement).

H A Jones summarized the philosophy of retirement as “the freedom to choose the kind of life, which, being the person you are, with the choices that are genuinely open to you, will bring a crowning fulfillment to your life.”

(This article is based on Manager to CEO: 9 Signposts to the Top Job by Walter Vieira)