The True Measure of Career Success

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 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.

 

 

 

How could the Training Industry landscape trend from 2015 onwards?

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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

Design Approaches to Advance Leadership Development Program Interventions

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In my previous post I had talked about the use of the ‘Know, Do, Be’ model as an approach for Basic Leadership Development. The next iteration in the area of Leadership Development requires discussing, what could constitute an Advance Leadership Development Program,

In Basic Leadership Programs the objective is to tell the incumbent participant about the ‘pre-requisites’ that constitutes Leadership. Pre-requisites refer to preliminary necessary critical behaviors that could barely make a person begin to exhibit signs and symptoms of Leadership Behavior. These are essential components without which a leader can’t be termed as a Leader.

When moving towards Advanced Leadership Development, the focus is on the ‘Be’. In a way, in the Advanced Leadership Program, the incumbent is equipped with the awareness of the several broad long term strategic intents and roles that a leader may have and choices are laid out to pick one that he or she would like to take up in the long run.

Around these, the domain of Advanced Leadership runs on the axis having Situational at one end and Transactional on the other end.

Approaches to Situational Leadership Development

Situational Leadership proposes that effective leaders must have a rationally balanced understanding of the circumstance to respond appropriately. The essence of Situational Leadership is that of Task Orientation. When designing a Situational Leadership Program, enough emphasis must be laid upon the Leadership Style and to link the Style to create an appropriate Climate that facilitates Task Accomplishments.

Since effective Situational Leaders are those who are high on achieving task
accomplishments, any program or intervention to develop Situational Leaders must have modules that cover giving definite instructions, learning structured methods of communication, learning to understand and interpret operational climate dimensions to integrate Product-Services Goals and Processes of the organization.

Such an intervention is expected to have learning inputs around Communication Styles, understanding critical behaviors that characterize Task Oriented Competencies and components of Time Management besides offering other Models, Matrix and Methodology of task accomplishment like Project Management. The criteria to choose these modules are that all of them contribute towards developing the incumbent into a Production-Oriented leader with a Directive approach.

Approaches to Transformational Leadership Development

Transformational Leadership has been ‘the single most studied and debated idea within the field of Leadership’ (Diaez-Saenz, 2011). In the leadership body of knowledge, many instances of business leaders’ turnaround success, middle management effectiveness, charisma-based leadership is attributed to Transformational Leadership.

Transformational Leadership is all about becoming an influencer, having people to follow and in the process scaling up the consciousness level of the followers about the significance and value of desired outcomes and the methods of achieving such resultant.

In organizations, Transformational Leaders are those leaders who are able to influence the team members to rise above their self-level interests and goals in the interest of the organization while also, as a parallel, satisfying the needs of the team members progressively elevating on the Maslow’s Motivational Pyramid.

In this context, Diversity acceptance, Multi-cultural Adaptability and Acceptance, certain Personality Traits and being high on Emotional Intelligence are essential competency areas for Leadership Development.

Contrary to Production Orientation, the focus of the design of the Transformational Leadership Development Intervention must focus on developing the People Orientation of the incumbents. The interventions to develop Transformational Leadership must also focus on and be inclusive of such components that go to develop the individual’s ‘Consideration and Participative’ approach rather than ‘Production and Directive’ approach.

In a way, while Situational Leadership concerns more with the competence of effectively maintaining the day-to-day business operations and “keeping the ship up-float”, Transformational Leadership transcends beyond the daily operational activities and formulates strategies for the organization to move to the higher orders of performance and achievements.

Thus, when designing modules of Transformative Leadership Development – Modules on People Development and Team Building, understanding Motivational Aspects and Orientation of Human Behavior, Collaborative Influencing, System Thinking, Change Management and Constructive Conflict Management are key ingredients.

A psychometric at the beginning of the intervention or program, capturing raw data of original state and extent of “As Is” orientation of the incumbent, always helps the OD Professional to design the intervention in such a way, that best helps to achieve the desired state and extent of orientation in the “To Be” state.

How to conceptualise the designing of a basic leadership development program?

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For any OD Facilitator or even an academic Faculty Member, developing a Leadership Development Program or a teaching module on Leadership is a task of significance and high value. Whereas much is known and talked about leadership in general, when given the charge of developing a Leadership Development Program or a teaching module on Leadership, the person may struggle to find out an appropriate approach to start with.

A search of “Leadership” on Google throws up roughly 84 million hits. Indeed, as a glamorous topic popularly talked about, the interest has grown and hence the growth, availability and popularity of Leadership Courses. The first objectively printed text book on “How to Teach Leadership” was published 25 years ago in USA by Westpoint’s Department of Behavioural Sciences and Leadership, titled Leadership in Organizations (1985). However, the struggle of Faculties and OD Facilitators continue and the following questions are pertinent:

(a) As a faculty or facilitator, where should I go to learn and find out about the wide array of approaches to teach or develop Leadership?

(b) How do I search the sea of practical experiences to arrive at appropriate hypothesis and pedagogical techniques which I can use to design, develop and deliver a leadership course or a Leadership Training Module?

I recommend the following approach which is called the “KNOW, DO, BE MODEL”. The three key components of this Model are based on the three classical domains of psychology.

KNOW (cognitive), DO (behavioural) & BE (attitudinal). As a resource person this leads us to develop a leadership process approach which flows like:

KNOW > DO > BE

KNOW – The underlined concept behind this model is that knowing about leadership helps to prepare future leaders for the organization and allowing them to practice. ‘Knowing’ can happen by way of acquiring concepts and theories from relevant societal concepts and existing Leadership Theories and Models. These then requires to be connected to the situational and perspectives of the leadership development, as faced by the faculty. Faculty is thus recommended to relate its target group and the current situational perspective to existing body of Theories and Models, so as to arrive at a thematic approach to address the Leadership Development needs. Additionally, the OD Facilitators ensure that their learning interventions or inputs in the program are tailored in such a way that they integrate the action of putting the theories and models into exhibited behavioural conduct in their day to day operations.

DO – “Doing” refers to the characteristic behavioural aspects of Leading, often referred also as Competencies. Characteristic behavioural skills, exhibited leadership style and experiential feedback exchange are core to Doing. Knowing and Doing, both refers to acquiring of knowledge and skills by incumbents to become leaders.

BE – “Being” refers to the attitudinal construct of the leader comprising of the leader’s Conscious and Unconscious sense to Identity, Character and Values.

Thus, the fundamental approach that emerges is, to develop an incumbent into an effective leader, the incumbent needs to be ‘Made Known’ of the relevant domain related information, facts and data. The incumbent also needs to be taken through the ‘Do and Acts’ of learning and practicing the critical characteristic behavioural skills. Further, he/she should also be trained to ‘Be’ a Values Driven, Character oriented ‘Being.’

FOR AN ADVANCE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM

The faculty or OD Facilitator may consider to extend the basic tenets of Application Orientation to learning simulations that could help the incumbent to experiment, to be either more of TRANSFORMATIVE or SITUATIONAL leader, as is the demand from him or her in the work situation.

I shall be offering a separate and detailed coverage on Advance Leadership Development in this blog soon.

© Satyakki Bhattacharjee 2014