“Accepting newer challenges”- 6 November 2012

There was quite a disturbance in the office. A few persons had objected to the boss asking them to do things that did not come strictly under their job description. They were upset that the boss was asking them to violate job code which was sacrosanct. If the job description does not allow it, then they would not do it, they asserted together. This caused quite a consternation to everybody. The office was stirred, since nothing of this sort had happened before.

Vivek had been working in the company for the past seven years and was considered as a rising star. He did not like a bit the attitude of some his colleagues. ‘Why should they shun newer challenges?’, he wondered. He himself had never said no to any challenge. His bosses asked him to do things that were far out of the job description, and he did those most willinglly. Most of those assignments did not produce any reward in terms of money for Vivek. Yet, he enjoyed doing those since he loved to take up difficult assignments that seemed way beyond him.
Vivek was also tossed around quite a bit in the organisation — from sales to marketing to production to administration to strategic planning to Vision group..! Vivek did not mind that tossing around. To colleagues who would criticise the bosses for tossing him around too many times, Vivek always said simply, “Look, I want to learn as many jobs as possible. That is what I have been looking for. So, why do you feel bothered when the bosses ask me to do things that are way beyond my job description? Let me have my way, please!”
Eventually, Vivek’s policy started paying off. For, all the bosses started knowing him as a man for all seasons, and a person who would never let them down. On a couple of occasions, Vivek did feel that he was being taken for granted. Yet, he did not change his ways, and eventually won the trust of all bosses.
That he was doing the right things in a right way, came to evidence soon. For, when the company opened an office in Singapore, Vivek’s name came up as the head of the fledgling organisation in the highly competitive market of Singapore. There, too, Vivek did well for himself and the organisation. Under his leadership, the Singapore office flourished and posted highest sales globally.
Once when Vivek was visiting the Head Office at Mumbai, many of his colleagues surrounded him and bombarded him with countless questions. He answered all those questions patiently. Then, one colleague asked rather bluntly, “So Vivek, you got paid off well for your chamcha-giri of the bosses, huh!”
Vivek was angry, and snapped back, “Look guy, that’s not the way to look at things. In fact, I need not respond to you at all. But let me tell you a home truth. You were my senior in office, and I was one of the many juniors under you. Today, you are where you have been — stuck in the groove, and I am in Singapore. In our organisation, chamchagiri does not take any one anywhere. Ours is a professionally-managed organisation, which you never understood. It is your negativism that has kept you at the fringes. And that also is making you speak utter nonsense. But then, that’s your choice. All the best!”
All colleagues were stunned, but realised Vivek’s righteous indignation. They also realised that when they were indulging in causeless protests, Vivek was building power bonds in the organisation. They realised, they had missed the bus while Vivek was already on the wagon.
Such stories abound in all organisations, adding to the corporate lore. Unfortunately, very few understand the importance of accepting newer challenges. They only follow the dotted line, but never step out to do things differently. That is why they remain where they have been, stuck in the groove.
S. Ramadorai who took the TCS to great heights as its CEO once said about himself, “I did what my boss asked me to do. He said, sell computers. I did. He said, repair computers. I did. He said, go to US to open new office. I did. I loved challenges, and that made my career worth the name…”
That is an interesting story worth telling!

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