The True Measure of Career Success

Standard

 As is the way the work society is, as is the way we seek and give recognition in families and friends, as is the way we mark our milestones in our career – so much skewed it truly is, as a measure of Success of Career.

Navigating the career journey with pseudo and cosmetic milestones decorates only the appearance of the career rather than long term endurance of the career. This treading on an unreal hollow path, puts a lot of pressure on one’s aspiration and the person ultimately reaches nowhere or grows up to be a Bonsai. Bonsai is the art of being ornamental, artificially decorated varieties of big trees in smaller pots. Bonsai’s are characterized by ‘Dwarfness in being Big’. Learn more about this from Dr. R. Gopalakrishnan’s book “The Bonsai Manager”.

Career can be defined as the progress by learning and practice of an occupation that a person undertakes for a long period of his life and continuously improve upon it, so as to offer it at a reciprocal value. Indeed, there can’t be a career where there has not been any ‘progress by learning’. However, and sadly so, the modern societal practice of career measurement ignores the ‘substance’ of career and celebrates the ‘artificial’ beauty tags. Thus, in most cases what we celebrate is our dwarfism in being a Bonsai. Bonsai’s rarely fruit, are mostly appreciated for beauty but a Bonsai Banyan can never give true shade and shelter.

Of all the things that make us a true Bonsai executive, the three most disguised and dangerous are the traps of Power, Title and Money. When Power, Title and Money happens to a professional on a career journey at wrong times, Bonsaism is guaranteed. The ‘look and feel’ is are there but the substance is missing in the inner layers. Nonetheless, how many Managers on the other side of the table truly has the courage and conviction to call a spade a spade. Which Manager would like to bear the perils of making a fast tracker on a societal race, realize that untimely stops at the PTM stations underscore no real achievement. This isn’t to say that aspirations and ambitions are bad traits to have. In practice, however, very few can back them with sensibility and logic.

It’s time to review how to measure the success of your career beyond Power, Title and Money, so as to have a real Career Growth and not a Bonsai.

 Dr. Marla Gottschalk offers interesting perspectives.

  • If, in your organization, you are in a role by which you are ‘Developing a Voice’ in the organization that impacts the organization as well as your professional practice positively… that’s priceless, go for it.
  • Learning and mastering something new – Whether your organization is small, medium or big – look for and get into roles that helps you to learn and master new things in your own professional domain or any other allied domain… you are making meaningful investments towards a long and endurable Career.
  • Find the challenge – In organizations, we exist in stages of “plates are full” and “can double hat”… periodically, depending upon a range of factors. Whatever they may be and wherever you are, look for challenges. It’s simple to find them. Whatever interferes with your ‘sense of comfort’ is a challenge and you would never regret welcoming a challenge now, to build a strong career base for future. Challenges on the first appearance seems to break us but they do give a tremendous high… a great feeling of satisfaction.
  • Create something. In every organization either small or big there do exist numerous chances of creating something new. Often invisible.Look for them. Try and give the organization a Practice, a Process, a Benchmark, a System, new Product, a new Line of Business, a new way of doing Something. This sounds impossible to many, yet, it’s both interesting and elementary. This is an experience which becomes so unique in our career that no traditional matrix can measure them.

As Kidambi Srikanth said after he clinched his fourth Super Series Badminton Title with an incredible straight-game triumph over reigning Olympic and World Champion Chen Long – “It’s just that I’m not thinking of winning or losing. I missed competitive badminton and wanted to enjoy the match. It’s like it happened because I missed that period of competitive badminton. It’s like I wanted to hand in and play as many matches as possible.”

Career success isn’t something you chase. It’s something you put forth with effort constantly and then it comes when you least expect it. Most people don’t understand that and only later realizes that they have become a Bonsai.

 

 

 

The Meaning of Executive Presence

Standard

Young Guns, New Bees or Veterans! Startups or Vintage! Culturally Progressive or Old School! Do take a note. The phenomenon of executive presence is gaining more prominence and permanence. Interesting though elementary, it is notable that what matters much ahead of how you conduct yourselves, is how your presence is perceived in the organization. Should you be the one who sets the tone in meetings, get on-board with confidence, has a sense of balance, composure and dignity of manners, is functionally assertive to constructive conflict, can take a call upon and decide – you could be having it in you what the ‘Selectors’ are looking for in players to ‘play the big match’ and that’s Executive Presence.

Should you be one who knowingly or unknowingly is feeding to your cravings for control, dominance and popularity and realise too late that the bridges are being burnt before they are built – you would rather be perceived as the ringmaster. So good luck on any transformations that you attempt either people wise or process wise.

Executive presence is subtle yet strong. Complex to define and measure but simple to feel and perceive. The best of the competency models and the most of the validated and reliable psychometrics, not sure, if they can make an empirical presentation of executive presence.

A rather significant determinant of your executive presence is your appearance and attire. It is not only about what you wear. It’s also about the way you wear it, the way you appear to others is what others see you as carrying yourselves and that casts the impression and judgements that people form about you. Can’t help! Organizations are made up of human beings and here it is needless to say the rest.

Additionally important is what Daymond John says – “Good grooming is integral and impeccable style is a must. If you don’t look the part, no one will want to give you time or money.”

So, is there a way to increase the Executive Presence Quotient? Researches by Human Processes Scientists and Organizational Development Professionals reveal that executive presence is associated with deeply held values, increased self-awareness to acknowledge one’s own needs and willingly working to manage those needs, seems to help.

© Satyakki Bhattacharjee

How could the Training Industry landscape trend from 2015 onwards?

Standard

Indian Economy seems to be coming out of the troubled waters and 2015 is expected to see a 6.4% growth. The head hunters are gung ho, the ‘make in India’ vision getting an okayed action plan from PM himself, is all set to enable and boost the Indian Manufacturing environment. The Global Economic activity too is broadly strengthening and expected to increase further in 2014-15. However, the top questions that remain for Learning & Development Professionals and Managers in the Training Industry are:

  • Will all these ‘Feel-Good’ translate into ‘Do-More’?
  • How would the Training Industry landscape look like from 2015 onwards?
  • What is trending in the Training Industry?

Curating the experience from the past few years and estimating the future of the training industry, the following trends could be useful for the Learning and Development strategists.

  1. Organization Development (OD) & Learnings in VUCA – No matter how much pleasant the economic breeze feels, the monster of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA) is yet to go away. Risking to sound pessimist though, it would be wrong to assume that happy days are here forever. The monster of VUCA could be in hibernation or hiding until another 9/11 wakes it up. The probability for which can never be believed to be zero, ask the world leaders. So learning and development managers need to devise their strategy and present a plan that is fairly VUCA proof. This does not mean that the Instructor Led Programs (ILP’s) are gone forever but prompts us to make sure that Self Directed Learning Interventions and Informal Learning Interventions are well included in the plan and forms an integral part of the strategic OD intervention of the organization.

The next few years are going to see an upraise in OD work. Organizations, however small or big, despite the cool breeze of economic growth will still need to have special focus on managing change. Rather, an impetus for change to align with the overall positive economic stimuli will be experienced by most organizations. Deeper and serious top-driven organization-wide interventions to bring about a planned change will be back in radar, with Boards outlining enterprise-wide organization development strategies to plug the gaps in its results page and focus on untapped Market opportunities deploying People Strategies. More and more internal people could see developing as OD professionals and authentic OD Consultancy would stand starkly separated from gift of gab.

  1. Answering PE & VC’s (Private Equity and Venture Capitalists) – My last visit to an engineering school in India recently firms up my belief that the Next Gen does not compulsorily agree to appear for the campus placements. They dream to own startups and soil their hands in making business sense out of things that are interesting though elementary. And there you go, the PE’s and the VC’s are putting money and betting on them, cheering them in the race. The PE firms and the VC’s invest in the business and make money by exiting. Good or bad, while they are there, they demand results. The entrepreneurs have to answer the PE’s and VC’s on results and this is where training the people sooner to give faster results gets mandated. Thus the need to train up their people soon to show quick results to the PE’s and VC’s. Learning and development professionals must gear-up to meet this challenge. Yes, learning interventions now must be like “quickies” which can give visible results on-ground in much shorter time. Time as a luxury would no more be available to Learning and Development professionals. Yet, beware, the expectations are even higher.
  1. Content would be God – One of the ways that learning and development managers handle the pressure of yielding sharper results in lesser time is by re-orienting the Content and redesigning the delivery.   An important aspect of learning and development, which I feel the L&D professionals have not paid serious attention to and practiced, is that of Instructional Design (ID). It’s time that we believe that designing a training program is a Science. Principles of ID deployed in program designing increases the efficiency of the training program as the design then is specifically tailored for the learning results. Unlike what most training and development professionals believe, effective Instructional Designing is actually much more than just organizing the information to be shared. With the demand to deliver learning results in short span, time has come for all of us to believe in and practice authentic instructional designing.
  1. Mobile Learning – Mobile technology is changing the way we learn and is beginning to change the way we deliver learning, either in isolation or as a combo offering with other computer based technology(CBT). If only Learning and Development professionals accept the fact that the content they create can be delivered in a way that is ‘Convenient’, ‘Comfortable’ and can be ‘Carried Along’, they have delivered what is Mobile Content. With smart phones, tablets and E-readers almost replacing the note-books and the ball point pens, Training would survive only if, a large part of it can get into these mobile devices. Increasingly, organizations are pushing their academic and corporate learning activities through this emerging platform.
  1. Learning Management System – The next few years would see an augment in delivering, measuring and monitoring processes in the training industry. Whereas now, all the managing, monitoring and control of the Learning and Development activities in an organization is largely devoid of a standard centralized e-based application, it won’t be long before organizations serious about Learning and Development, adopts an LMS and in a way the training industry gets a sort of an ERP fever.
  1. MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) – Free is Big and Open Source is a Great Source. With Comfort and Convenience becoming a significant aspect determining learning effectiveness, MOOC is getting soon to be on top of the charts. The MOOC platform gives us the L&D professionals, course creation tools which are easy to create quality courses online. It helps to control the content and enhance the learner experience driven by latest tools for great interactivity. This is one trend that is going to transform the learning community soon integrating the world of academia, corporate businesses, government institutions and trainers and facilitators offering Training Industry a One Globe Platform.

Not to say that the Management Development Programs (MDP’s) would dry out and INSEADs and Harvards would have to hard-sell; is just that the offers to these programs would be even more selective and only the fittest would survive to experience these famous class rooms.

Wishing good luck and a year of accomplishments to all my L&D colleagues.

Satyakki Bhattacharjee

© Copyright Satyakki Bhattacharjee