Many people measure success in their work life by their titles and better still, if the title smells of being the boss of a few people. A few years ago in India, it was customary to receive a title that is connected with the word ‘manager’ if one worked a couple of years as an individual contributor. If one didn’t get such a title, one left the job in the quest of another; social recognition score for the person was low! And at the workplace, we saw that the so-called managers struggling in a big way to drive their teams to produce a set of outcomes per a defined process. We had many people titled managers and they lacked the qualities to don that role. Given the economic debacles that most industry sectors faced some time ago, some of these inappropriate norms have thankfully been replaced by more thoughtfulness and higher rigor in evaluating the role-fit of a person before moving her or him up. Notwithstanding this, we do have talented people who are keen to take on the managerial role. How do they move up?
Firstly, it is about knowing the real job of a manager and understanding what is expected. Many a times, people are enamoured with the title of a manager, the image of team members queueing up to seek approvals, being at the mercy of the boss and so on. And there are many who believe that the only way one can do well in life is to become the boss of a group of people. One should not let the mind to get wrapped in these kinds of vanities and falsehoods. Because, the reality is that the job comes along with its fair share of opportunities to leave one’s mark behind and obstacles to overcome. One needs to observe keenly the job of a manager, the opportunities to create an impact on the organization and the challenges on the way. As long these are well-understood and appreciated, the decision to move up can become a lot more substantive and deep.
Secondly, having decided to aspire for the role of a manager, one needs to be patient and analyse the qualities needed to perform the role. For the first-time aspirants, one would not have the experience on one’s side. However, one would have the hunger and eagerness to success; combined with a dose of talent and consistent proactiveness, one gets noticed by the senior folks in any organization. A thriving organization naturally has several occasions and opportunities to offer the aspirant a chance to take on specific tasks beyond one’s call of duty and prove one’s mettle. In our current times, senior folks expect the ambitous people to be vocal about their areas of interest and proactively claim the space to demonstrate their leadership. It is important that one is noticed.
Last but not the least, one needs to be a constant learner and spread one’s thoughts. Learning happens in multiple methods and in various situations, such as in the customer’s place, the partner organization’s factory, a discussion with a colleague, an article or a blog post. One needs to connect the dots and think how the emerging shape can impact the organization. And these thoughts must not be privately held; they need to be spread like flowers let their smell spread in the garden.
So, it is Think.Act.Learn!