Money Matters

A short guide to success

By Sirajuddin Aziz
Mon, 06, 24

Regardless of vocation, industry or segment of the economy or society, the principal requirement to make oneself prominent and outstanding is simply hard work. There can be no success without burning the midnight lamp.

A short guide to success

Regardless of vocation, industry or segment of the economy or society, the principal requirement to make oneself prominent and outstanding is simply hard work. There can be no success without burning the midnight lamp.

Any success that is the consequence of nepotism, irregularity or disrespect to legal process and validity is always bound to run high ground. It is always short-lived. The sustainability of success is singularly dependent upon its acquisition through honest means, legitimacy, sheer commitment, devotion and hard work.

The pages of history are soaked with both the selfless contributions of individuals for the benefit of the multitudes as well as treacherous individuals who in their era and space achieved success which had an inbuilt flaw of non-sustainability. The latter kind of individuals stand obliterated or at best are remembered as grievous examples of failure caused by selfish intentions. The former are remembered for their nobility, because of their selfless contribution.

In the field of commerce, industry and business to be successful one needs to harness specific skills which have to be learnt and polished to convert them into unique abilities.

To build a career, personal skills, abilities, talent and hard work should be the only things to focus on. There is no harm in having a guide or a mentor, but to expect them to catapult you into the zone of success is a foolish thought to nurture. Mentors are meant to help individuals find and discover strengths and weaknesses and to provide directions to plug loopholes and utilise to the optimum level the unique strengths. They provide direction only. They cannot -- and should not -- carry the individual on their backs to the finish line or even to a milestone on the career path.

Career growth must remain the concern of the individual and not the entity. No organisation takes the responsibility to ensure the career growth of its staff seriously; they are expected to compete to achieve success. The organisation is expected to facilitate the achievement of both corporate and personal goals, which must range between the two extremes of material wellbeing and spiritual attainment. The achievement of one at the cost/ loss of the other may give a limited advantage but it cannot be long-lasting.

In the same vein, it must be clear that a vertical climb up the corporate ladder is not the only sign of success; horizontal movement across the hierarchy is equally a good measure of accomplishment. The diversification of experience gathered by moving around in various departments/ divisions within the organisation allows senior management to consider upward mobility with positivity.

A supervisor is expected to have sound knowledge and understanding of the primary concepts that influence work; anybody who lacks or possesses inadequate conceptual understanding can never be an effective and successful supervisor.

Everyone who wishes for success in his/her industry will need to focus on some minimum level of expertise in areas, covering technical knowledge and practical experience; developing a sound knowledge base, conceptual clarity, and fair understanding of the potential of human capital -- including knowing the significance of interpersonal skills as well as empathy.

Efforts ought to be directed towards getting a clear understanding of processes and procedures. For this purpose, the manager/ supervisor must be pursued relentlessly for creating training and development sessions or allowing people to attend them.

As one moves into senior positions, the environment’s expectations also grow; colleagues continually evaluate if the manager/ supervisor is worthy of the position occupied, and whether they have the abilities to lead, direct and guide. Is the supervisor capable enough to imbibe the spirit to grow and deliver the best results? Only those who meet these criteria are respected and are thus assigned more challenges and senior roles. Personal excellence is a prelude to a successful career but to keep moving on the path of success, the ability and talent to make others grow is necessary. Those managers who fail to develop competent successors get stuck in their tracks.

To be respected and accepted as a leader/ manager, the ability to communicate with clarity is an absolute essential. Successful managers are great communicators. They articulate their thoughts and vision in simple language that is well-understood by the entire workforce. To command effectively efforts have to be made to improve and polish communication skills -- verbal, written and the unexpressed. The skill to pick up signals from colleagues must be continually sharpened.

A successful leader recognises that not all issues will be expressed or brought to his attention. Many critical decisions are postponed for lack of knowledge; consequently, they are kept on the burner to simmer and then can explode in the face of the leader. In the management of a career, never keep or push things under the carpet, because for sure they re-emerge as many-headed dragons. A successful manager’s closet is always clean. To become and be a good leader, one has to demonstrate a very heightened sense of picking up signals, even if later they turn out to be mere insinuations or gossip.

To develop into being a manager of substance it is also critical to stay away from internal controversies. There should be no position-taking, either for or against, any person or group -- unless it is about moral or ethical issues. Independence of opinion should at all times remain a supreme objective.

Managers who possess patience as a virtue and also have the attitude to deal with workplace conflicts usually emerge as successful leaders. Anyone who contributes to furthering the conflagration of an inflammable relationship between colleagues would cease to be acceptable as a manager.

To grow within the ranks, any individual must be seen by his/her teammates as a person who has skills in untying knots, and not one who spins cobwebs of confusion.

The surest guarantee for a successful career path is to possess and use the ability to unravel and solve complex problems; leaders are expected to be problem solvers -- and not be the problem. Politicians are exempt from this responsibility and obligation.

While on a career journey, one should remain mindful of not getting sucked into negative company. Aspirations to grow must be matched by efforts towards seeking entry into those groups of individuals who think and act positively.

A positive attitude leads to harmonious interpersonal relationships. The camaraderie that is found in the unanimity of thinking between diverse individuals allows for improving the ability to listen and accept others points of view; it also enables the individual to do self-analysis, leading up to self-correction whenever and wherever required.

To move up the hierarchical ladder, every enthusiastic aspirant must know that they first have to develop their backups, who ought to be better than themselves. This can be achieved only where there is a willingness to transfer knowledge and help colleagues improve their skills. The willingness is exhibited by the courage to delegate. Managers who stubbornly stick to their positions can hardly be expected to climb the ladder. A progressive individual must have the confidence to let go. A successful manager knows when to be a leader and when it is best to be a follower. The 101 of becoming a celebrated manager is to have the recognition that all leaders must remain at all times good followers.

Those who display fiendish and unsavoury behaviour are unlikely to be candidates for being successful leaders/ managers. A Faustian approach cannot take anyone on to the pathway of sustainable success. Difficult individuals cannot work or fit within a cherished team.

Of all the traits necessary to reach and remain a successful leader, honesty and hard work stand out. There are no shortcuts to these two virtues.

The writer is a senior banker and a freelance columnist.