SKILLSET FOR A SUCCESSFUL CORPORATE CAREER

Prof. Dilip Ranadive IMDR
The debate over formal management education`s adequacy in creating corporate ready managers is raging between the academia and corporate fields for over a decade now. While the corporate executives seem to consistently express about the so called “gaps” in their expectations from fresh graduates and the caliber they receive in campus placements, these gaps largely relate to the aspects which mostly fall under the category of “Self-Learning”. In fact, each management student needs to deeply understand as soon as his course begins that, he is embarking on a journey which is going to transform him in to a professional. This transformation from the stage of a student to the stage of a professional is not an overnight phenomenon neither it can be done merely in classrooms. The self-learning process for this needs to begin the day the management course commences.
Students are generally concerned about landing a good job as soon as possible. It is necessary that they also understand what is it that takes to survive, grow and chart a successful career in a good corporate.
Following is a review of some important skills that can facilitate a high gradient corporate journey.
  1. Attitude
  2. Everyone wears his/her attitude like an invisible cloak. It becomes our second nature. Attitudes can be changed and put in right shapes. What is necessary is to be POSITIVE, CONSTRUCTIVE and SUPPORTIVE. These are three basic dimensions which will be expected in a successful manager. First response from a manager to any task or assignment given to him is expected in the mode of “Yes, I can. Let me just work out how”. When asked to be a part of a team, he is expected to contribute by way of suggesting means, options, improvements and such. An attitude of constantly doubting the purpose, questioning the methods and discouraging the team are very undesired.
    As the business environment is becoming more and more dynamic with every passing day, the business organizations are looking for “doers” and mastering these three basics would help in making you one. Additionally, anyone with these traits is readily accepted as a “needed and preferred asset” rather than viewed as an “avoidable liability”.
  3. Integrity.
  4. This is another quality on which a very high value is put inside the corporate environment. Even in the era where corporate loyalties are being redefined, the value of personal integrity remains very strong. Integrity triggers many other positive impressions about an individual, like trustworthiness, dependability and reliability. Such persons are always viewed with greater respect and preferred over many others for important or sensitive assignments. They are also considered (and prove to be) better leadership materials.This in turn paves way for future career.
    On the other hand, lack of integrity, if & when detected, can be viewed extremely seriously and can even threaten very existence of a manager in an organization.
  5. Accountability.
  6. A deep sense of accountability manifests in the sense of “ownership of a task”. When a task is assigned, it needs to be accepted as our “own” task, instead of being viewed as something the company wants me to do. There is a remarkable difference in these two approaches. The chance of success automaticallyenhances when the task is viewed as “own” task.
    Accountability of a person is tested at the time of failures. Never shy away from accepting the ownership of the given responsibility and if at all things go wrong because of you or under your leadership, come forward and accept responsibility for failure. Remember failures have been very effective teacher to some great people like Mr. DhirubhaiAmbani and Mr. Steve Jobs. Many such greats have publicly admitted to invaluable learnings in life from their own failures. To make this possible, there needs to be a strong sense of accountability.
  7. Consistency
  8. This is yet another important aspect which defines you as a performer. It is necessary that, once it is decided as to which path is to be followed for fulfilling a task or achieving a result, it is necessary that the efforts are maintained relentlessly on the designed path. The surrounding factors may bring in deterrents but it is necessary that such speed breakers are successfully negotiated through solutions. Wherever required, make course corrections but it is important that the efforts stay on consistently and relentlessly.
    It is also necessary that one proves himself as a consistent performer. A onetime achievement can be viewed skeptically as a “Ram bharose”, if not followed by similar results in the course of time. In fact the first success elevates the expectation from you and it needs to be followed up consistently to be proved as an achiever.
  9. Smart work
  10. A manager is expected to apply a sharp mindset and review his task. He needs to keep the ultimate objective in sight and evaluate his resources. While it is easier to adopt a“go-by-the-book” approach, a manager needs to be innovative and find ways of achieving results in a manner that may bring in early results, cut costs, save resources or establish a long term advantage. Such managers always make a special impression and are preferred over the others.
  11. Hardwork.
  12. As the age old saying goes, there is no substitute to hard work. This is one saying that has remained unchanged in business world since industrial revolution began. There are many who consider smartwork as a substitute to hard work. In fact both are complimentary. With the business world becoming more & more competitive, there are pressures on achieving results and proving performance. The office timings have stretched so have the demands on performance.
  13. English Communication.
  14. English is the global lingua franca of the business world. Corporates expect their managers to be fluent in expressing themselves in good, cultured English and even prefer those who can, over those who can`t, while assigning tasks needing external contacts. Lack of good English speaking skills can make you lose out without even realizing it. Good English communication also helps in developing and carrying out impressive presentation which in turn carry your good work to others who matter and in turn, help in getting recognized.
  15. Composure.
  16. This relates to your ability to check and control external display of emotions. During corporate work, under pressure or in many other business interactions, you will face situations which would shock you, surprise you, disappoint you or even cause you to be angry. The moment one succumbs to any of these emotions and displays it in any manner; he may lose control of the situation and in turn stand to lose. A good manager cannot afford this and hence has to learn to practice maintaining composure under any trying situations. This equally applies to situations in which things happen the way you wanted them to. Here too, it is wiser to be restrained in public expression of elation.
  17. General Awareness
  18. Last but not the least, companies like their management level employees to be well aware and knowledgeable about things other than their work domain, company and business sector. This need has emerged strongly after the globalization has set in. Corporate managers are frequently part of social interactions with business partners and international clients. On such occasions, a Manager is expected to be at ease and a part of the conversations that take place on varied subjects.Those who are, experience preferential treatment and those not, the otherwise, in certain business situations. To meet this requirement, students need to cultivate a habit of being curious, inquisitive and knowledge seekers.
    There are many such finer skills which are necessary and will facilitate a successful journey. Management students need to understand these and start their efforts very early during their course in cultivating their personalities by acquiring these skillsets.