21 Jan 2019 19:59 IST

Have you identified your passion?

Whether you are networking, running an organisation or working in one, communication is crucial

People join a business school because it equips them with leadership skills and promises a bright career. As a management student, this is a good time to reflect on what you want to achieve and how you can contribute to the business world. Basically, to look at what are your fundamental beliefs or guiding principles that dictate your behaviour, and get an idea of what is important to you.

I once interviewed a senior professional seeking a new role and I asked him about his objectives. He replied that he would like to be a vice-president, director or board member of a company. It was sad to see a seasoned professional pursue only personal gratification and not have any goals to better his profession. Most people seem focussed on improving their social status and don’t nurture any passion for their areas of expertise.

The best companies and leaders are driven by passion, which is meaningful and integral to their existence. Passion cannot be a passing interest or a hobby; it has be something that impacts the world. Your ‘why’ (why you chose what you did) will influence your daily activities and needs to be integrated into your learning and professional work. Personal gratification will obviously follow, but it cannot be the purpose of your education.

Nurturing the right attitude

I was once on a flight, seated behind a child who was perhaps flying for the first time. His enthusiasm — from take-off to the service and landing — got me thinking. I had blocked this child-like enthusiasm because of the repetition of experience. I would have been less grumpy if I, too, had treated that day’s experience, although mundane, with more enthusiasm. Being constantly enthusiastic and working on every activity like it’s the first time, offers new learnings. It is good to bring back this child-like quality in you.

I always advise kids to play a team sport. It inculcates a discipline that you probably cannot learn in classrooms. It teaches you to appreciate the diversity of skills. Each one plays to their strength and they become effective together. In your professional life, too, you will need this quality to oversee a team. As a leader, it is your responsibility to bring out the best in everyone. Trusting their capabilities and your own are important values to cultivate. Accepting diversity, staying open to democratic discussions, seeing strength in everyone and learning to empathise, are effective leadership qualities to build. Further, collaborating with fellow students, professors, industry experts and society will strengthen you.

The best of leaders have shortcomings and make mistakes. Be open to critiques from your peers and work on them. Of course, you will make mistakes again, but let them be new ones.

Challenge yourself

There will be unlimited opportunities, options and possibilities along your path to becoming a good leader. If you are open to them, you can reinvent yourself every time. If you continue to challenge yourself and your perspective of reality and are open to breaking away from your comfort zone, you will discover a whole new world. Don’t let any self-limiting belief hinder change that you would like to see in yourself.

See not what the world can give you but ponder what you can give the world. Every subject can be taken to the next level. Be intense and learn fully. It is easy if you are open to diverse and effective skills. Solutions are often multi-dimensional; internalise this. Voracious reading is the best tool we have to learn about the various possible insights to any aspect of business.

It is good to champion some issues as you go along, be it in the business world or society in general. Structured reading on issues, building communities around it and active participation could make an important contribution to community thinking and problem-solving.

Improve your presence

I always write about the importance of networking. It is not about nurturing friendships to ask for favours. As you network you discover new opportunities and it gives you a competitive edge. Stay connected and invest in your relationships, be it professional or personal. I advise you to develop a unique game plan. Connect, communicate and focus on the positives. At all times, one needs to behave appropriately and be presentable.

Whether you are networking, running an organisation or working in one, communication is crucial. Your reading, writing, speaking and listening skills matter a lot. Pay attention to them. Once you learn to carry yourself with confidence, there's no limit to what you can you achieve.