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The road to becoming a CEO

Every employee must strive to be a competent and resourceful individual in the workplace. Iyer Subramanian explains the role of a ‘Chief Effectiveness Officer’

Monday, August 18, 2008, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

iyer_subramanian_new.jpgYou might wonder how I am writing an article on ‘The road to becoming a CEO’, without having experienced the position myself. The CEO that I will discuss is not the ‘Chief Executive Officer’ of an organisation, but a ‘Chief Effectiveness Officer’. Become a ‘Chief Effectiveness Officer’; continue to put in your best effort day after day — one day you will be on ‘The road to becoming a Chief Executive Officer’.

Everyone feels that he/she is very effective at the workplace. We do not know what effectiveness is; and hence, we should ask and imitate those who practise it. As we are ignorant about effectiveness, our ignorance rubs off on people who come in contact with us; for example, subordinates, colleagues, supervisors, officers and managers. This in turn, makes them ineffectual. It is often said that the quality of people in an organisation determine its quality. If each and every person does not give his/her best in terms of efficiency and effectiveness, the organisation will cease to be profitable, and subsequently, perish.

Be ruthless about weeding out incompetence and poor performance. You must demand quality work from yourself more often, and insist that people do their jobs well. Identify your core competencies, and continuously look for ways to upgrade them

Thus, irrespective of our position in an organisation, we need to be extremely result oriented. The organisation may not designate you as a ‘Chief Effectiveness Officer’, but no one can stop you from designating yourself as a ‘Chief Effectiveness Officer’. You can give yourself this designation only when you follow the available strategies:

Responsibility: Take responsibility for your work, for every aspect of your job. The people who ride high in their field are the people who act like they own the place. They see themselves as self employed, no matter who signs their pay checks.

Direction: The more definite and focused you are, the easier it is for you to make better decisions about your priorities and use of time. The more time you spend on your most important work, the more you accomplish, and the better you get at achieving greater heights.

Service: If you wish to increase the quantity of your rewards, you must first increase the quality and quantity of your service. Your rewards in life will be in direct proportion to the value of your service to others. The focus on results, on pleasing the customer more than your competitor, is the guiding force of successful businesses.

Effort: Nothing will bring you into the limelight faster than a reputation for being a hard worker. Your commitment to hard work creates a force field of positive energy around you that attracts positive people and greater opportunities. You must work on high value tasks and activities aimed towards the accomplishment of meaningful and important goals.

Preparation: The mark of an effective person or real professional in any field is that he takes far more time to prepare than is average. When you prepare, get the facts.  Facts don’t lie. Check and double check. In other words, ‘Effective performance is preceded by painstaking preparation.’

Efficiency: Always ask yourself these questions. Why am I on the payroll? What specific, tangible, measurable results are expected of me? There will never be enough time to do everything that you have to do. Only when you stretch yourself will you discover how much you are truly capable of. It is the efficiency with which you complete the job that matters.

Decision:  Every great leap forward (in life) is preceded by a clear decision and a commitment to action. The people who achieve great feats are not necessarily those who make the right decisions. They accept feed back and self-correct. Such people are always decisive, constantly moving forward, and never  vacillating in their attitude.

Persistence: Your ability to persist in the face of setbacks and disappointments is your measure of self belief and your ability to succeed in your professional life. When you demonstrate to yourself and to the people around you that you have the qualities of self-discipline and self mastery, you will become absolutely indispensable, and your effectiveness in the organisation will sky rocket.

Excellence:  Commit to excellence in your work, especially in key result areas and core competencies. In other words, a commitment to product or service excellence is the safest and most predictable strategy to achieve business success. Resolve to commit to top performance, and you will witness that move into the fast lane of your career.

Superb execution: Set standards of excellence for yourself and for everyone who reports to you. You need to be ruthless about weeding out incompetence and poor performance. You must demand quality work from yourself more often and insist that people do their jobs well. Identify your core competencies and continuously look for ways to upgrade them.

Relationships: People don’t buy products or services. They ‘buy’ the people who sell the products or services. First, you sell yourself as a likeable and creditable person, after which you can sell what you represent. Maintain and strengthen high quality relationships with internal customers (subordinates, colleagues, bosses and vendors) and external customers to see the company forge ahead.

Priority: To achieve great results, you must always concentrate on the small number of activities that contribute the greatest value in terms of work. Continually ask yourself, what is the most valuable use of my time, right now? Whatever it is, work on that. Your ability to discipline yourself to work in these few tasks can make the greatest difference between an effective and ineffective manager.

The above mentioned strategies are invaluable, and they must be mastered by anyone who wants to emerge on top. The managers/officers who occupy vital positions in organisations have sincerely and deliberately worked their way up, to carefully progress in their career. Some managers who hold pivotal positions have put these principles to use unconsciously, without knowing that these values are at work. Thus, it can be safely interpreted that the results of any organisation can skyrocket if each and every manager puts these universal strategies to test.

The author is a Professor with Anjuman Islam Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai. Iyer Subramanian can be contacted at

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