One Day Contract

8 Jul

Long term vision and its execution has become a norm for the leaders today. They invest in enriching domains, resources, succession planning, mergers and acquisitions; and indeed on strategy.

I remember talking with my then HR Manager about 15 years ago on understanding the IT market. What he told appeared interesting and intimidating too. He had just had a meeting with an influential personality of Singapore. The personality had told him that he planned only for a week as he didn’t have control beyond that duration. What essentially he meant was that he needed to keep himself appraised at least every week on what’s happening and if he didn’t, he would lag behind! Now, he didn’t refer it in terms of the regular ‘rat race’. It was in the context of learning. In simple words, as a leader, he couldn’t keep himself behind. If he did, he became a ‘follower’, not ‘leader’.

That was then. How often do we evaluate ourselves to know if we are on the right track? Tell me if you really write down your objectives/goals (especially the ones that you submit every year to be evaluated during appraisals)? All of the so-called established organizations have this as a practice and we all know that most of them write the goals just before a day or hour before appraisals. The so-called leaders/managers are in hurry to ‘formally’ review the progress but in reality, they are keener to accommodate their team members as per normal distribution curve. No genuine discussion/feedback, just ensuring that critical resources are retained. The strategy, long term vision, planning etc – everything takes a backseat at that time. The moment it is over, it is quickly forgotten until the next appraisal.

Have you wondered why pigeons don’t crash? I learned about it in Primary Plus magazine. To understand the reason, researchers constructed randomized obstacle courses of vertical poles, through which four pigeons-trained to fly between two perches- could traverse. They monitored the data using series of ceiling mounted, high-speed cameras. They constructed literal bird’s-eye view along the flight. They observed that pigeons seem to prefer steering toward larger gaps, if available, when making rapid steering decisions. i.e. the pigeons adjusted their flight path when only 1.5 meters from the entry of artificial forest – rather than planning out their path in advance.

I think that in today’s world, the true leaders lead as if they have one day contract. As Jeff Immelt said in one of his interviews, one stays if he brings in heat, if one is competitive and if one is making a difference. He stated very aptly that the common trait of business leaders is that they are learners. This gets evaluated on a daily basis. You don’t perform for a day and you lose out learning and contributing for that day. I repeat that this is not about a ‘rat race’; however, I believe that leaders need to have ‘one day contract’ to keep themselves and their organizations competitive.

What is duration of contract that you have to keep yourself ahead in the game?


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