May 16, 2007

Where I disagree with the Brazen Careerist

Guy Kawasaki interviews my blogger friend, Penelope Trunk, the Brazen Careerist, on his blog, and while I am a big fan of Penelope, here is some India specific thoughts I have.

Is it more important to be competent or likable?

The ideal answer is that you should be both. However, if you lack certain un-trainable competencies, like empathy for customers or employees, then it's unlikely that you'll be very likable. So I'd choose to be a likable, but not where that would interfere with my ability to take hard decisions about people, if need be.

When should I ask for a promotion?

In India where 8-14% salary increases are the norm and new industries are being created every year, asking for promotion is a good idea. However, do it when you think you are ready to deliver in the new role. There are certain organizations that will give you a responsibility before you are ready for it, and you'll have to settle for a salary that consummate with that.

If you don't ask for a promotion in certain high growth industries, then people might think you are not confident of your abilities and you'll probably never get the promotion.

Is being a generalist or a specialist the path to the executive suite?

I agree with Penelope on this question, though if you really want to be a CEO, you need to become a generalist again, with a different perspective. Even functional head roles need you to step out of a specialist role into a generalist role. You should be a T-shaped manager. Depth in one or two areas and breadth in many areas. Read my post on whether you should be a generalist or specialist in HR.

Will getting an MBA or any other type of advanced degree be a good use of time and money since I can’t find a job?

In India, yes. An MBA is simply the way recruiters use a filtering process because they can't visit all the colleges. However, if you graduate from the biggest brand name colleges in the metros, then an MBA is becoming more and more redundant.

By the way, Penelope has promised me a galley copy of her book. So when I get it you can look forward to my take on it too :-)