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Posts Tagged ‘Vidura’

Quite a few of the managers I run into are frustrated because they could never make it to the top slot. The corner office with plush seating and an exclusive wash room has somehow always managed to elude them. I admit that the power and pelf a Number One slot bestows upon a manager is alluring as well as intoxicating. But I believe that being a Number Two is also not too bad a proposition; in fact, it could be more rewarding, instructive and exciting!PROMOTIONS

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating a drive against perfection or excellence in whatever you do. I am only trying to say that there is divine contentment in being a Number Two as well – relish it!

The Perils of Being a Number One

Being a Number One is rewarding as well as challenging. Take it from someone like me who has been at the top of a pyramid several times in his career. There are obvious drawbacks to reaching the top, and let me sum these up.

  1. When one does get to occupy the corner office, one gets no one to talk to freely. One may be lucky to have a few unsuspecting souls whom he can use as a sounding board for his ideas. But there is no denying that such team members who listen to the top boss respectfully could very well be those who believe in merely being ‘Yes Men’.
  2. Even if one gets a nay-sayer, there is no guarantee that he does not suffer from a tendency towards premature ejaculation, spilling the beans to a group of his own confidantes, thereby nipping all well thought out plans in the bud. In other words, one may be commanding fake respect, but not necessarily genuine loyalty.
  3. The sheer pressure of being a part of the rat race is rather high. Ensuring that one remains unchallenged in one’s top position brings along a level of stress that many may not be able to handle for long. If they do so, it could be at the cost of either health or quality time with their near and dear ones.
  4. One has to constantly watch over oneself to ensure that the ego does not balloon into something unmanageable. If humility does not come to one naturally, the stress builds up faster.

Being Number One does not necessarily imply that one is happy and satisfied. If so, one may be making good money but not having fun. Could it be really worth it?

The Perks of Being a Number Two

You Are Responsible, Not Accountable

The boss decides the overall paradigm and the goal to be achieved. Like the captain of a ship who has a better and wider perspective on things, he decides the course to be taken. Your own task becomes simpler to that extent. Sure enough, you add value by providing operational feedback which could alter the course quite effectively. In other words, you may be responsible, but it is he who is accountable!

Extra Time on Your Hands

The poor guy also takes the rap for all the failures. So, that leaves you with enough time to catch up with other pleasures at the work place – like, hob-nobbing with the HR guys to keep an ear to the ground, sweetening up the Accounting devils to ensure that all your claims get settled fast, chatting up with the legal eagles to ensure that your operations are free of any blemishes, and to network with other departmental heads so as to derive synergistic benefits for your own area of work.

Managing Insecurity of Your Boss

You know how insecure some of the top bosses are. Of course, this is internal to them and is never meant to be displayed publically. At times, you might have felt that your salary is getting paid only to ensure that his mental balance is always under control – a unique privilege, to say the least. Many a times, a boss gets so worked up about an insignificant issue that you need to intervene without delay – either taking the responsibility of resolving the problem yourself, or by simply diverting his mind to another pressing problem.

Some Role Models

Being a King Maker (and not a King) has its unique advantages. When you offer yourself as a sounding board, you can give sane advice as and when asked for. In our scriptures, you might have admired the sage counsel of people like Vidura (of Mahabharat fame) and Chanakya (advisor to Chandra Gupta Maurya).

In literature, if you have been introduced to the chronicles of Bertie Wooster, you would have admired the feudal spirit of Jeeves who invariably comes to the aid of the young master in his hour of peril.

These people could perhaps be the role model for those of us who are relegated to a Number Two slot in our careers.

Continue Honing Your Technical Skills

There are professions in which an elevation means getting away from honing one’s technical expertise further and instead getting bogged down with administrative hassles. Ask a doctor who has become a Medical Superintendent or a teacher who has risen to the level of a Principal; in all likelihood, they would readily attest to having experienced this syndrome.

You Always Try Harder

The best advantage you drive from being a Number Two is that of immense learning and untiring efforts towards improving your own performance. You cannot afford the luxury of being complacent. You always try to work better, because somewhere deep within you, you cannot get rid of the desire to attain the top slot some day!

I believe this logic applies to companies as well. Decades back, Nirma gave sleepless nights to HUL. Samsung is now beating Nokia at its own game. There are several David-Goliath type cases in the industry which justify this belief.

Being Number Two means that you always have a high testosterone level in your blood stream, thereby making you more aggressive and a highly focussed achiever.  The fire in the belly remains unabated.

The Flip Side

On the flip side, by being Number Two, you run the risk of becoming a scape goat at times. Too long a sojourn in this slot could either mean that the company has stopped growing, or that you have overstayed your welcome. If so, seeking greener pastures could be a solution.

A Disclaimer!

My arguments in favour of being a Number Two might have made you jump to a conclusion that I am a lazy bum, devoid of burning ambition and a fire in the belly! Or, I am a manager who believes only in abdication and not in delegation. Or, even worse, that I am rudderless drifter!

With all emphasis at my command, I deny all such insinuations! Rather, allow me to urge upon you not to lose sleep if you have just missed that coveted elevation to a Number One slot recently!

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