Article: Successful leaders are the ones who serve internal customers first

Leadership Development

Successful leaders are the ones who serve internal customers first

The lead indicators of a fast mover are not the ones with the most initiatives, the lowest attrition, the highest performance under their belt as much as the most loved people manager.
Successful leaders are the ones who serve internal customers first
 

The lessons to be taken away. It is always to up the ante and be recognized as a team player besides checking the key Indicator boxes off.

 

When looking for the most obvious trait of a fast mover. Look back on any service chief of staff's record. The ones who often move up the ranks are not so much the Param Vir Chakra awardees but more of the Seva medal holders. 

The everyday workplace reflects the same. The lead indicators of a fast mover are not the ones with the most initiatives, the lowest attrition, the highest performance under their belt as much as the most loved people manager. The NBA amongst many other sports bodies awards the MVP (most valuable player). Not for the one with most 3 pointers shot but the best passing to the right person at the right place. 

This kind of sums up what most high potentials miss and then, they wonder why they got passed up for the job. 

The Indicators:  

Initiatives: If initiatives and performance alone got you a promotion, who would work on the floor? Factories, production units don't want to lose a good 'worker' to an IJP! I've seen this n number of times where managers keep performers close with no room to move, request for redeployment elsewhere works for them. High pots are  in a way are quite often victims of their own performance. Performance alone is not key is not the only lock to open on the door of success.

Hierarchical- top-down country:  If you work in India, China, Brazil, Mexico as per a recent survey of global corporate Inc. The boss has already made a strategy and plan very clear. He/ she is not there to facilitate but to direct. Most employees forget the adage, 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do.' If they spend one year just executing orders well, bringing people to a common platform, the seeds for the promotion are as good as sown.

The awards recipe: Most folks would be happy getting an extra mile awards, best idea award and the highest performance award, and then, they wait in anticipation, or they rest there. The secret sauce is the combination- lots of people awards, one Idea award, every now and again a promising achiever award. Performance awards are like salt, it needs a set quantity. Look at our own group level awards at global companies. The most crucial underlining metric in all is the getting people’s consent and working as a team. Just like an MVP.

The lessons to be taken away. It is always to up the ante and be recognized as a team player besides checking the key Indicator boxes off. 

Longevity: We have heard this. The key to a long disease-free life is not access to the best air, food and comforts alone. The best relationships kept are the open secrets of longevity life as is respect for the peer and social groups. It can't be better put for corporate Inc. To live long and earn your stripes, strong relationships are vital. 

Chart that career graph: Look at a typical career graph. People spend initial part of their careers associating learning only with their domain. The aspiring people managers learn by observation, mimic their mentors, read and follow what works best, and most importantly are careful not the rub and influencer the wrong way and jeopardize a good thing. Here what you can do:

  1. Spend 1 day in a month on networking - irrespective of your service line
  2. Join informal groups and leverage their potential.
  3. Develop a fan follow who will: recommend you, say good things or give you and your work/ contribution some limelight at least once in a quarter.
  4. Ensure your learning, domain, regular habits etc. don't become talking points for the wrong reasons.
  5. Take at least one risk and strive to do your best and sound off failure points.
  6. Besides this make sure regular work, performance and numbers don't take a back seat.

 
The failsafe: In Belbin, I once learned that all of us are allowed to have an 'allowed weakness' for each 'strength’. I once reported to a boss who spoke fast, and thought even faster! To make up for this trait, he built superb relationships with all groups. These folks backed him up on sight/ first word. For some naysayers, a gentle good word from a senior stakeholder did the trick. I understood this years later. It's a fantastic thing, he did have some outliers, but was kept in check by being noticed at the company dance group, the high revenue projects delivered on time, the lead in most crucial activities of the team. His team actually liked the punishing and hard timelines, if it meant they could continue to report to him. 

(The author is a senior manager L&D in a leading ITES company in India. The view expressed are his own)

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Topics: Leadership Development

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