Money Matters

Holding hands

Money Matters
By Sirajuddin Aziz
Mon, 10, 22

Last evening, three young professionals visited me. Of them, there was a senior, who joyously informed, that he was moving to another financial institution, at better compensation package, a higher designation and where the prospects to grow were ample. Post the cake cutting, in celebration of the move, a conversation ensued, during which, the senior spoke the most. I could see the other two youngsters, a man and a girl, were listening in rapt attention that was equally supported by the glimmer of hope, flashing in their wide open eyes, for themselves, in the context of growth and progress.

Holding hands

Last evening, three young professionals visited me. Of them, there was a senior, who joyously informed, that he was moving to another financial institution, at better compensation package, a higher designation and where the prospects to grow were ample. Post the cake cutting, in celebration of the move, a conversation ensued, during which, the senior spoke the most. I could see the other two youngsters, a man and a girl, were listening in rapt attention that was equally supported by the glimmer of hope, flashing in their wide open eyes, for themselves, in the context of growth and progress.

This senior attributed his growth and success to his supervisors and managers. With vehemence, addressing, to the other two aides, he stated, that he was inspired to learn and do better, because of the deep interest of the supervisors. The interest in him, he informed, ranged from improving banking skills, technical proficiency to all personal grooming. He remarked how on first hand basis, he learnt grace, manners and professional etiquettes, while travelling alongside his managers.

Whilst he was talking with passion, I was quietly reminiscing the effective role played by my own managers, in my professional growth, who were several in my career, and of different nationalities and diverse cultures. Each helped me by chiselling away the rough contours, with extreme care, attention and interest. The rough edges were smoothened out, allowing me to become a vessel of acceptance to new thoughts, new learnings and enabled de learning too.

These supervisors themselves were of very exceptional talent and qualities. Because of their emancipated minds, they never were shy to teach and share; I had no supervisor who would, like many others, put their skills and experiences, into closed vaults, for fear of losing their false sense of superiority. All my supervisors literally held my hand in imparting technicalities of banking and finance. In doing so they enhanced their stature.

The responsibility of any manager is to just manage business, is such a myopic thought. I believe, it was Richard Branson of Virgin fame, who said, manage to look after your colleagues, who will in turn best manage the business, then possibly the entrepreneurs, themselves.

Managers have to take wholesome responsibility of developing the human resources of their unit / division. In the pursuit of business objectives, they must also divert their energies towards improving the quality of the human resources. Again it is not about merely achieving high levels of technical proficiency--- it is about, the growth in the thought process; the broadening of the horizon of approach to business.

In the development of people, the best approach is to draw the individual’s attention to noticeable gaps, in either professional standards or in the lack of any important personality trait, or for the presence of a negative trait. This has to be done with nobility, grace and decency. I have seen, from a distance, many managers, who would operate with puffed up faces, to indicate their disinterestedness in colleagues.

Then there are managers who proclaim themselves as “hard task” masters, by virtue of conversing loudly and belligerently--- in the most despicable language--- the process of connection, through employment of choicest of words is untenable. Disillusioned managers believe wrongfully that rebuke inspires action; nay it creates fear. Scared individuals cannot perform to their best.

Establishing a deep sense of affinity with colleagues is critical for gaining faith and confidence of team members. Once the manager relates to his team, through the medium of an emotional connect, good results, for performance and hard work, are more or less guaranteed.

Mr Shaukat Mirza (late), the stalwart corporate executive of Pakistan is known to have held hands and mollycoddled his colleagues particularly the younger ones.

The entire edifice of management must be built on the premise that the organisation will do everything possible for its workforce to realise its natural potential to their own advantage and the entities advantage

I learnt from a source that when he would be travelling to the plant he would be mostly travelling by train and would have either one or two young executives or management trainees, I believe he used to insist upon making tea for them instead of they making it for him. Since it was an overnight journey, he would be awake first much before his colleagues would be wake and by the time they would be up, he would have the tea ready for them already. Amazing connectedness by a boss, by a leader with his teammates.

Another classic example that comes to mind is of Mr Agha Hasan Abidi, he was on his way to address some young officers in London, his car stopped at a red light, there was a zebra crossing and he saw a 5 year old innocent girl standing alone wanting to cross the road. She was tentative and apprehensive in crossing over despite the walk on sign was green. Mr Abidi was extremely moved by the sight and asked the audience how they would feel if that young girl happened to be your daughter or sister? How they would have reacted? He then said with misty eyes that he was so moved by the sight that he almost alighted from the car to help her cross the road by ‘holding hands’.

Holding hands has been best explained by the painting that Michelangelo drew many centuries back, it might have a Christian connotation to it, but, essentially it shows that those who are powerful must hold the hands of the weak. Those in positions of authority must hold hands of those people who work for them with a common objective and view.

Happiness in an organisation is a need for having a motivated and inspired staff. Managers who are generally happy with their surroundings will demonstrate in their actions and interactions with colleagues, a pleasant and a happier disposition. I am borrowing and amending with apology to Leo Tolstoy’s opening line in Anna Karenina (1877), ‘all happy managers (amended) are alike; every unhappy manager (amended) is unhappy in his own way’. The goodness in men is simple, it is the negativity residing in personalities, when the bad or not so good, appears / emerges in multiform; the good since it is always alike, hence it, requires no change whereas to the chame-leon spirited manager, who is unkindly and is against improving the lot of others, such supervisor, are different before noon and post noon.

It is a manager’s responsibility to fully tap and realise the potential of colleagues; this is best achieved when the manager makes the constituent conscious of his or her potential and then gives them an enabling environment to turn potential into reality. In the engaging dialogue, it is important to ask, have you discovered what your unique and distinct skills are?

The target ought to be to improve and gain more. The time for correction is now, not on the deathbed. Solan, the Athenian leader’s advice is timeless. ‘Look at the end’ regardless of current position and status in life, the time to change is always here and now.

In the pursuit of business objectives, they must also divert their energies towards improving the quality of the human resources. Again it is not about merely achieving high levels of technical proficiency

A little before his assassination Dr Martin Luther King Jr delivered a sermon in a church in Atlanta. It was on the subject of new years resolutions, but essentially it was to identify and point out the existence of potential and recognition of the potential. Of the many things he said, the following while reading his speech appealed to me the most because it talked about objective and potential; said Dickens, “I said to my children, I’m going to work and do everything that I can do to see that you get a good education. I don’t ever want you to forget that there are millions of Gods children who will not and cannot get a good education and I don’t want you feeling like you are better than they are. For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be’. A politician who is trying to invoke passion in his followers to achieve what they have as a unique talent and to bring around between them a semblance of similarity in terms of recognition and status”.

Managers / supervisors must have a keen eye to watch colleagues; those who get pleasure in doing certain assignments, it is unlikely that they would not be the best in class. The entire edifice of management must be built on the premise that the organisation will do everything possible for its workforce to realise its natural potential to their own advantage and the entities advantage.

Perhaps, the best gift a manager / supervisor can give to his colleagues is to help identify their potential and later on provide the right circumstances for their development.


The writer is a senior banker and freelance contributor