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Journey to the Top

People get motivated by different things and for different reasons to get to the top. For some, it could be the job title, the car, social status, an improved standard of living or even a fat pay check. While for others it could be the challenge in itself, or an opportunity to learn and grow or an opportunity to make a difference. Whatever your motivation, always remain motivated, particularly in crunch moments, along your journey to the top!

Here are four key perspectives from the top. Simulate them and deliver on your desires:

1) Get things done
Effective bosses get things done. Yes, they may seem to have more 'authority' than people down the line, but never forget, no one enjoys absolute power. At every level there are challenges. The higher up you go in the corporate ladder, the more authority you end up having. But the demands placed upon you are equally big. Bosses appreciate people who can get things done. Think about it - your company seniors have goals to achieve, just like you. While plans need to be flexible, goals are fixed. They would never like to have people who persistently fail to meet objectives assigned and people who have a habit of coming up with excuses instead of desired results.

Recently, during a short break in our workshop, I came across some people who were discussing when was the right time to move from one company to another. They were evaluating the pros and cons of job shifting every two years. My suggestion to them was simple, "Consider moving only when you have made a visible, impactful & sustainable contribution to your existing workplace." It is not how long you stay that matters - it is eventually what you deliver - the legacy you leave behind. Your move must be seamless, with a successor in place, before you venture to newer and bigger things.

2) Let solutions motivate
It is pointless to complain that bosses are de-motivating. Go-getters are internally motivated. They don't rely on the external motivators like appreciation or a pat on the back - although it feels good to hear a nice word now and then! Your greatest motivation is your achievement - the work you get done. At the end of the day it revs up and adds spice to your resume and eventually your growth. Since the concept here is simulating the top, think and reflect who motivates your company/ organization/institution head. Who motivates your CEO? It is a lonely position, where at times you cannot openly share your fears and concerns as it may have a negative impact on the team. CEOs are usually motivated by the corporate results their team delivers. See your current job as a business. Be self-inspired and solution-oriented. 'SOLO-U-TIONIST i.e. people who take responsibility for solutions are always in demand. I recently read a quote some where that said, I don't like work... but I like what is in work -- the chance to find yourself. Your own reality -- for yourself, not for others -- which no other man can ever know.

3) Promote teamwork
The person at the top understand that work gets done through teamwork. Functional silos and communication barriers kill efficiency and productivity. Therefore, learn to involve others in finding solutions to get things done! Last thing you want in your path to excellence is enemies - this in no ways means that you please everyone. By helping others achieve their goals, you will get cooperation from them In your own success.

Remember the story of the hare and tortoise? The message was 'slow and steady wins the race'. Some years back I read another version*. Moral of the new story is that if we work together, combine energies, a much greater and better result can be achieved. Even when eating food (assuming you eat with fingers) you need to use all your four fingers and your thumb, and they are all of different sizes.

Fairness in your approach with team players discourages bias. Bosses are there not because they are technically more competent, but because they understand how to work with people and know the art of unleashing human genius by being fair and firm. That is leadership. To get to the top_ appreciate others' contribution, and when necessary, hold people to account.


4) Coach yourself
We often hear that managers need to be coaches. But who coaches the top? You often find people down the line blaming their seniors for not developing them. Change this paradigm. Learning is all around you. Be connected. There are people around you who are your biggest coaches. People at the top visibly have no coaches, but use people around them as their coaches. Successful executives listen, observe, feel, sense, evaluate and talk to all kinds of people. They learn from every interaction thereby making effective decisions.

Getting to the top is an aspiration - but requires plenty of perspiration. It is not always as sweet as it looks on the top. It takes great responsibility to be at the helm of affairs - be aware of what you wish for and prepare yourself at every point along the way.

In case you are at the top, sit with your team members/direct reports and clarify what you expect from them and how this essay could be a document for commencing a dialogue on succession planning and management development in your organization.