I was hearing my dear friend Soumitra Dutta, who wrote the book “Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom” the other day, speak about his book where he opines that the future of work lies not in the hierarchy and position an organization provides an individual but if individuals can excel and unleash their potential. Besides, today’s “employee” collaborates not just within the organization but also as much outside and the fine line between work and pleasure has dulled considerably. I am living his theory in some way.
The last 6 months have been the most difficult but some of the most exciting months in my life. I struggled to find my course and take decisions that I knew would have big implications on my life and career. After all, I had a wonderful job, great boss, amazing colleagues, and a supporting family to boot. It seemed stupid to rock the boat on one side, but there was this nagging feeling that unsettled me. Instead of ignoring those feelings, I decided it was time for some introspection and determine how I wanted to live my life in the coming months and years.
In my 15 year career, I have had fantastic opportunities where I have led projects where there had been few precedents. Be it creating a roadmap for commercialization of India’s first biotech crop, overcoming what could be the worst business environment, or executing a brand transition in 19 days or taking a brand from being virtually unknown to be nominated as among the top 5 to watch out for, my career has been full of excitement and challenges that have not only been fulfilling for me as a professional, but have also shaped the person I am today. Now, other than having a strong will and perhaps a reasonable above-average intelligence, I don’t think I have any other remarkably different skills that an average professional possesses. I realized that what really helped me succeed all these years was the ability to look at a seemingly impossible situation and create a path to find a solution for it. It was the challenge that excited me and helped me get the successes I have had so far. One of things I had always struggled with was to translate my vision to others and delegate, but in the last few years, my biggest satisfaction has been the creation of the communications team from scratch at HCL and watching this vibrant and high-energy team grow from strength to strength and execute programmes with an expertise and panache that would put much experienced veterans to shame! Easily the best and the sharpest team in the world!!!!
I find myself again at the crossroads now, and I choose to take the path less travelled. The decision to move out of a role that gave me so much success and satisfaction hasn’t been easy but I need to this now. I am excited about the challenging projects I have determined for myself, that will bring significant business impact to the organizations I will associate myself with. Time will tell if this was an intelligent decision but it definitely feels good. I truly believe today I can be successful and get peer recognition purely for the value I bring to the work I do, and not be judged primarily on a high profile designation I might have.
I am also reminded at this time of this discussion I had with Prof Gary Hamel sometime back where he was telling me about this company he was very impressed with called WL Gore. He told me that employees in the company had no designations. I pretended that I wasn’t baffled, but I actually was. I mean, how does one know who’s the boss? Gary’s theory was very simple. He said if “someone calls for a meeting, and the invitees turn up, well, he sure is a leader”!!!!!!!!!! Which is true, isn’t it- people naturally gravitate towards people they think bring value to their work and their lives. Isn’t that really a better yardstick to determine who has “leadership” potential?
So there…flagging off my personal journey and experiencing the “future of work” where the fine line between personal and professional, between social and business, between work and pleasure is just that….a fine blurring line!