The River Or The Pond: A Leader’s Choice

I am quite sure that after read­ing title of this column you might wonder what does it really mean. You may have asked yourself what is the relevance of a
26 May 2018 11:05
The River Or The Pond: A Leader’s Choice
Mayur Kalbag

I am quite sure that after read­ing title of this column you might wonder what does it really mean.

You may have asked yourself what is the relevance of a leader with a river or a pond.

The answer is the fact that the river isalways flowing and in con­tinuous ‘forward-movement’.

On the other hand the pond is al­ways in a motionless state.

Although both are water bodies and both have the ability to in­spire and enthrall people I still be­lieve that, for a leader or a corpo­rate professional, it is better that he or she in a sense become like a river rather than stay like a pond.

Anecdotal example

Mahendra and Ronald had been working as senior supervisors for a large trading company in Singa­pore.

They were extremely competent and had shown high levels of per­formance and therefore both of them were promoted to the posi­tion of team leader.

Six months had passed and it was time for the half-yearly as­sessment of their performance.

The assessment panel of three General Managers invited Mahen­dra to the conference room and began their assessment process.

They looked at the progress re­port and realised that Mahendra had accomplished all the respon­sibilities that were bestowed upon him successfully.

All the three general managers of the assessment panel evaluat­ed Ronals’s progress report next, and seemed to agree that he too, like Mahendra, had accomplished all the tasks and responsibilities.

But then there was something more and different about the pro­gress report of Ronald.

There were three occasions when he had taken leave of absence.

But this absence was for attend­ing three seminars specifically related to his work and there was one that was on the topic of lead­ership skills development.

Ronald’s reasoning

“I see that you missed a few days of office. You had taken leave of absence from your important work to attend some seminars. Why did you miss your office work?” one of panelists asked.

Ronald probably was not expect­ing this question.

“I completely agree that I had taken six days of leave from my work but I had done that for a rea­son and I wish to explain that to you,” he said.

“I have always believed in the philosophy of continuous and progressive growth.

“There has to be some kind of forward movement for me in or­der to grow in my professional career.

“I must confidently tell you that the two days of training added tremendous amount of knowl­edge and skills.

“I began to realise that there is a lot to learn and develop within me towards becoming a better leader and I thank the training seminar for it.”

At the seminar, he was notified of another similar seminar that was to take place.

“The seminar was on a technical subject which was related to my work and about which I always wanted to learn more about,” he said.

“My immediate superior had seen my efforts in developing and implementing the learnings from the earlier seminar on leadership and hence quite enthusiastically gave me the go ahead.

“I must say that the seminar on the technical subject was not only beneficial for me but also for my other colleagues in my team in­cluding my boss.

“Within just a week of having attended that technical training I was given the opportunity to share my various learnings with my team through a formal presen­tation of two hours.

“I received a very positive feed­back from all of them and espe­cially from my boss and later he himself nominated me for anoth­er seminar on the subject of per­formance evaluation techniques.

Growing you career

“My respected panel members, I do not wish to remain in the same position that I am. I do not wish to remain as a team leader for the rest of my life.

“Like you, I too want to rise and get promoted to the level of a Gen­eral Manager.

“For that to happen I have to work hard and along with it I also have to learn fast too.

“Finally, to all of you, I wish to say that I would rather become a fast and enthusiastically flowing river than remain where I am in a static state like a small pond.”

Saying this Ronald politely thanked the panel for giving him the time to express his thoughts and then sat in silence.

He was not sure what the reac­tion would be.

Panelist reaction

At that point in time one of the panel members suddenly got up from his chair, walked across the table towards Ronald and to eve­ryone’s surprise he patted Ronald on his back.

“I must admit that the thoughts you just shared with us have re­freshed my way of thinking too,” he said.

“I think I too need to look at con­verting myself from a large pond into a vibrantly flowing river. I cannot be happy and complacent with what I have achieved till now.

“I have to move further forward. I believe we all need to do that.”

Saying this he, along with the other two panel members wished him the very best and then all of them left the conference room to return to their respective cabins.

I am enthusiastically confident that we too can learn from the way Ronald thought about his own professional career develop­ment.

We, too, can make the decision whether to remain as a pond or evolve as a vibrantly flowing ‘RIVER’ always moving ahead and never looking back.


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