Tips to a Successful Management Career – Chapter 1

Management is an extremely competitive profession; where one is pitted against the best of the best. He has to beat the performance benchmarks amongst his peer group, in order to forge his way ahead and have a successful career.

Before we talk about Success; its important to establish – What is Success?

Success for an individual is his ability to rise to his potential.

The Management peer group is fairly competent and competitive; the performance management systems are designed keeping in view both performance and potential.

The challenge therefore for the individual is how does he stack up on the performance and potential matrix. In terms of taking his career forward, an individual must determine two things-

- Where to Play (of the many priorities and deliverables, which are the ones to excel at)

- How to Win (strategy to excel on chosen priorities)

Every individual has innate strengths; it’s extremely important for the individual to know what those are. There are several tools to determine the same (e.g. Strength finder profiles etc.). Knowing one’s innate strengths and playing to those is a pre-condition to winning. While one has a set of strengths (good!) and knows about it (even better!!); it’s also critical for him to understand what areas to work them upon (where to play).

Ask three questions-

a) What are the economic drivers for the company I work for

b) What can I do better than others

c) What do I enjoying doing

While one answers these questions; one helps himself to identify the key areas he would leverage himself on. That constitutes the where to play.

How to win, is by contrast an easier and a more execution oriented question to answer. It would depend upon the specific areas, their contexts, improvement needs and what systemic differences an individual can bring about. Its important to adopt a strategy where one can show some improvements in a short span of time to drive home the perception that he is able to impact those areas. It’s also important to have SMAC, Specific, Measurable, and Actionable goals and measures. So he can progress and establish his achievements accordingly. Score carding is a great approach for the same.

For instance, Mahendra Singh Dhoni had a mature brain, power to hit the ball out of the ground, stamina to run faster and keep wickets for 50 overs (basic strengths, things he could do better than others). He enjoyed his game of cricket.

Based on that, he worked on his wicket keeping and batting talents; that would always pitch him better vs. pure batsman and pure wicket-keepers (for gaining entry into Indian cricket team). He had the stamina so he knew he could contribute in both capacities.

He made a name for himself by consistently scoring fast and hitting big sixes. He leveraged his mature mind to deliver consistent results by adjusting his shot range depending on what the situation demanded. In short, he converted two basic strengths – Mature mind and ability to hit the ball to develop a skill of a match-winning batsman.

As selectors noticed his maturity, skill to win matches consistently and ability to think and act decisively, he was elevated to the captain of the team. Dhoni used these very strengths to move his performance to another level – by displaying demonstrative leadership that could lead from the front. He also used his maturity to motivate and inspire both seniors and new comers to deliver their best.

Dhoni, though still young, is turning out to be a very successful captain, with an enviable wins record both in Test and One day cricket.