I was at the HRM Summit on Friday and the theme was ‘Building Leaders of Gen Next’. Very interesting discussions encircled a wide range of topics under this umbrella. Being an Executive Search consultant, I interact with current and potential leaders on a daily basis. Sharing my thoughts on building leaders of Gen Next, I address this piece to Gen Y or the Graduating classes who are in the 1st leg of their journey.
Keeping a few things in mind may stand you in good stead.
Lets start with something that may not be the most comfortable thought. Think long term. Yes; you are climbing the career ladder quicker and do not have the luxury of making too many mistakes w.r.t to your career choices. So think hard where you want to be 10 years from now and follow a career strategy accordingly. Pick the industry, function, trainings, assignments and environment that will direct your strengths and basic personality into your career; not because they seem to be the most attractive or popular choice at that time. Believe me, you will revisit the thought 10/12/or 15 years from now but it’ll be too late to change tracks then.
Never lose sight of your Resume. Are you able to add something to your Resume every quarter? This could be an achievement, a learning, an initiative or a contribution. Its easy to overlook this in your routine and immediate pressures and before you know, you are at the end of the year measuring yourself against your KRA’s that may or may not have enriched you on any of the above. If you are mindful of enhancing your Resume every single day, it will dramatically change the way you work and grow.
Specialization is the name of the game going forward. Rapid pace of change, shorter job spans and pressure for immediate results necessitate that one is productive from week one if not from day one. You can do that only when your learning curve is small. Start figuring out early on what you are good at, what you like to do and what you are skilled at. Try to bring these elements as close as you can. Finding your niche will ensure that you focus, excel and most importantly use your time smartly.
Learn to take smart risks, if you must. As you take on new jobs, remember to have linearity on either your function or the domain. This means that if you are moving from FMCG to Telecom and you are a Sales Professional, move to Sales, not to Customer Support leadership. And if you must explore new functions, do so within the same industry. That way when you or your prospective employer take a consolidated view of your experience, you are able to leverage most of it. And remember, you are paid for what’s critical to the employer, not for all of what you bring to the table.
Make learning and conscious improvement your guiding mantra. This applies as significantly to your attitude as much as to your skills. Research after research will tell you that people of all generations and at all levels want their leaders to be credible, trustworthy, dependable, farsighted, encouraging and good listeners. Isn’t that what you want too? And if this is the hot seat you are hoping to be on, start preparing from day 1. By the way, did you notice that not one of these traits is industry specific?
There is a lot more unknown and unpredictable in the world of business that you will have to be ready for. Like in any game, you can only anticipate the moves of your opponent to an extent. The better trained and prepared you are, the better your chances of playing a memorable and fun innings.
Enjoy the coffee.