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Attaining Success through 'Five P'

Monday, August 08, 2016
By Nandkumar Y Sanglikar

Nandkumar Y Sanglikar
Communications Consultant

Understanding your boss is a Critical Success Factor for flourishing in any organisation. In order to understand the boss, his mind set and things that are important to him is not a difficult task. The theory of ‘Five P’ helps you to achieve your goal.

Most corporate directors follow a certain path in their way of progress in corporate hierarchy. Having studied behaviours of several directors on board with leading international companies for over 36 years, I have observed 5 distinct phases in their advancement. One may also call them barricades since leaders can’t move from one phase to the other unless they learn and internalize the lessons offered by the phase they are in. It is interesting to note how each leader behaves once he reaches the position of a director on the board of a listed company. There are remarkable similarities between these leaders’ behaviours in each phase which makes generalizations possible. A leader may get stuck in a particular phase which may hinder his/her progress. Knowing which phase your boss is, gives you deeper insights in his/her likely mind-frame and behaviour. It also drops solid hints to their reportees in understanding the likely expectations of the ‘Boss’.

I call these five phases as ‘Five P’s. For ease in understanding, I have arranged the five phases sequentially. That means that a leader, who has been recently promoted to the board of his company almost always, passes through them one after the other. These five Ps are like filters. Only a few leaders are able to reach the fifth and final ‘P’. You can count them on fingers of your one hand.

First ‘P’ or phase one- PENNY:
I call this step as ‘Penny’ because it symbolises money. One of the first differentiators is the significant enhancement in income once one moves to the category of a director on the board. Several perks like pin to piano are offered by well known companies to their directors. It gives rise to a sense of euphoria – a kind of high. How does one recognize this phase?

The directors in this category are keen to take you out for lunches and dinners to expensive clubs exclusively meant for senior corporate executives. Most importantly they would also like to drop names of such clubs. It is quite common to hear from them sentences like, “When I had taken so and so to the ‘millionaire’ club last night…..” Or they would fancy Armani or Rolex and would not hesitate to show them off at the drop of a hat. You are supposed to ‘wow’ such utterances which gives them really a high. You can try to look impressed by such statements! If you do so, your director will certainly love you! Such a phase generally lasts for 3 to 6 months.

Second ‘P’ or phase two- POWER:
I call this phase ‘Power’. As a senior exec enters the highest echelon of management, s/he senses newly acquired powers. S/he notices that employees are more courteous and obedient in their responses. This feeling of being superior to others makes the exec feel more powerful. And this situation gives him a new high which he has not experienced before.

Watch the lingua of such people. It is full of terms like ‘I think’, ‘I feel’, ‘I recommend, ‘I want’. Such people are ‘I’ specialists. If you notice that your supervisor belongs to this category, you better show that you respect his wishes and you are working according to his orders. Even if you wish to follow a different path, you may have to use suggestions and give her/him a feeling that the idea is his! This will guarantee your success at the work-place. This phase lasts for a year or two.

Third ‘P’ or phase three- Publicity:
I call this phase ‘Publicity’. This is a major barricade in the way of progression of senior execs. Many get stuck in this phase. After having earned much more money than what you need and after having enjoyed power in the organisation, most feel the need for this vital ingredient of corporate life. Most people love to read their name being quoted by the media as an expert or an opinion leader of the industry. Large numbers of senior execs also like to appear on TV shows commenting on the industry or emerging trends. Once they start getting the desired visibility, they get accustomed to it and always desire for more. They like to hear their own voice and love to see their pictures being printed in the media. However, outwardly, they would like to pose by saying that media chases them to talk which they actually dislike when, in fact, they love it.

They pretend that they are obliging media by talking to them when, in fact, they want more of it. This high is most addictive. It may take up to 3-5 years for satiating this appetite. Some are never satisfied with the visibility they get. The life of their communications person is, perhaps, most tough for s/he needs to find more and more avenues for their ‘boss’ who is ever so hungry for visibility. If you have a supervisor who loves publicity, show him that you read every word that is published about him. If you discuss the published piece with him, you will surely endear him!

(To be continued next week)

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