By Vishnu Makhijani
New Delhi, Jan 6 | Some people just go on and on with a burning desire to pass on their knowledge to the next generation. After more than four decades in the corporate world, during which he rose to CEO of Tata Bearings, G.S. Rattan spent a decade in academics, has just published his debut book – at 74 – and says a “fourth career would be absolutely brilliant” but for now he is happy to settle into his role as an author.
“I always knew I wanted to teach after I retire from a corporate career and somewhere at the back of my mind there were dreams of an audacious goal of writing a book. During the second stint of my career as a teacher, I ended up planning my third stint based on the feedback and interest expressed by students,” Rattan, who is now settled in Chandigarh’s satellite town of Zikarpur, told IANS in an interview.
“The story just grew from there and I saw the third dream becoming a reality with the support of my family. And once I decided to commit to it, I gave it my full attention. It took me two years to get it ready for publishing. It was still very unreal till the book was actually published and I held the physical copy in my hand. That’s when I knew I am actually beginning my third career as an author,” he added.
When he started out, he thought he was a “good writer” till he tried “capturing an entire decade in a chapter” and then met an editor who guided him through the process of writing “10 Steps to the Boardroom – Climb Your Way to Success” (Penguin).
“Writing for yourself and actually putting together a clear concise chapter that delivers the message with empathy and clarity is a delicate balance and not an easy task. The first couple of chapters were frustrating as we went back and forth with the edits. But the output was worth it. After that I knew how to put this together,” Rattan explained.
“I had always wanted to pass on my knowledge to the next generation. Teaching gave me the opportunity. With a book, I am able to reach and help several others across the country. This book is to be read by every ambitious professional irrespective of their industry. If they want to go right up to the top, then this is a read they cannot miss. The book guides them through various stages of their career and helps them carve a path that they can create to move to the next level,” he elaborated.
Rattan was quick to admit that it’s “very easy to be preaching this without actually every having gone through it – but I have”. Having weathered the grind, he wanted the book “to be relatable” and is “happy to share my own journey” to help readers “make a connect and let them know what is possible”.
What then are Rattan’s 10 steps?
Setting Expectations (Career Stage: Entry Level)
Stay Positive and Have Unlimited Patience (Career Stage: Entry Level)
Unlearn to Learn (Career Stage: Team Leader)
Stay in the Limelight (Career Stage: Manager)
Focus on Results through Teamwork and Delegation (Career Stage: Team Manager)
Look beyond Your Own Area of Specialisation (Senior Team Leader)
Grab the Critical and Underperforming Areas and Show Results (Career Stage: Department Head)
Building a Strong Network (Career Stage: Multiple Department Head)
Create an Opening for Yourself (Career Stage: Vice President)
Keep Marketing Yourself for the Top Job (Career Stage: One step to the Boardroom)
Rattan provides precise guidance for each step of the way.
For instance, finding the right department; listening to criticism and rectifying failure will need immense patience; do not learn the tricks of the trade, learn the trade itself; do not let personal and team success go unnoticed; develop new leaders under you; abundant talent and knowledge exists across the organisation – observe, emulate and give due and honest credit; identify areas where there have been multiple failures and volunteer to take a shot at them to demonstrate problem solving and willingness to take up challenges; have professionals of other divisions, sections and other sister concerns on your friend list; be generous with ideas to the people who matter – become their ‘idea’/go-to person; bring your a-game to the table every single day.
And, once you’ve made it to the boardroom, it doesn’t stop at that. There are Ten Golden Rules that now need to be followed:
Don’t be petty or vindictive
Take up a meritocratic approach
Reprimand in private and praise in public
Keep your word
Your communications skills matter
Lead by example
Don’t let success or failure get to you
Express gratitude and maintain a positive attitude
Discipline is essential to your success
Celebrate all victories
With the pandemic, and now the Omicron wave, impacting the business landscape, both for professionals and entrepreneurs, what are the steps needed to be taken in the ‘new normal’?
“The business landscape has changed a lot since the pandemic struck. Creating a connect is difficult without actually meeting someone as is getting a vibe of the work culture. People have moved from team work to working in silos. Given the next wave that seems to be creeping up on us, this seems to be the new normal for some time now. It is difficult to ascertain how and who people are in a virtual world both for employee and employers.
“However, what has not changed is the basic qualities of a good team member that is often spotted for promotion to the next level – decency, learnability, empathy, performance and attitude,” Rattan, who is now working on his second book, maintained.
So, there you have it. Just remember: there are enough crabs in an organisation to pull you down but you’ve got to have the gumption to “bash on regardless”. That’s what will take you to the top!
(Vishnu Makhijani can be reached at email@example.com)