Thanks to classmates who voted for me in the IMF (Student Body of IIFT) Elections, I’ve had the excellent opportunity of having been the Vice President for the year 2011-12. After my two startups, this counts as my most valuable learning experience so far. A few of them are
- Leave the ego at the door – Air in your head is the surest way of losing any respect your colleagues had for you.
- Peer Management – All the work I did was in peer teams; with the IMF, the club coordinators and other classmates. As such, I might have had the authority to order people around, but not the right. The best way to get work done was to help kickstart the task and then leave it on the concerned person, while being a worker yourself. This brings me to the next point,
- Leaders versus Followers – I equate followers to workers. All B-school promotional material (and even soft skills workshops, self help books, etc) talk about making a leader out of you. I say, become a good worker first, then think of becoming a leader. The reason is simple, the best workers get the best leadership opportunities. This is because leaders are supposed to “get stuff done” and those who get stuff done when not in leadership positions are automatically ahead of the pack when the time to choose comes.
- Interpersonal Relationships & Emotional Intelligence – The Indian MBA education system is basically Entrance Exam -> Group Discussion -> Personal Interview -> Selection -> Summer Internship -> Final Placement. IQ gets one through the Entrance Exam and then kind of stops there. After that, it’s all about hardwork and great EI. EI is also massively important for a VP, because in my experience, 75% of the VP job is getting together people of different interests and motivations and making sure they work well together.
Screwed up EI has its own consequences. As an example, I’ll tell you about a person we refer to as “Obama” (nothing to do with the real Barack Obama, mind you). Obama loved taking the Personality Development Sessions (PDPs; initial 3 weeks of sessions taken by seniors for the newly joined junior batch). Obama usually came up in front of the 2011-13 batch to dole out advice & reprimand anyone/everyone. Although a lot of what Obama said was probably true, he was unfortunately, quite abrasive. I remember the first session he took; pointing out a mistake, any mistake, in every junior batch member who came up in front to introduce himself to the class. This superior-to-thou attitude plus fuckall behaviour went on for so long, the junior batch specifically requested the IMF to remove Obama from all proceedings in the second week, or else they’d boycott the PDPs.
- Team Meetings & Reviews – Many of my classmates have more than 2 years of work experience and a quick dipstick poll had them had them say this about Reviews: useless if not short and sweet. As the VP, I feel this was one of my shortcomings. I didn’t hold Review Meetings frequently enough. Though it isn’t an excuse, but Student Body work isn’t always quantifiable. In fact, it most usually consists of following up with people, taking care of paperwork and running around after admin, profs or even students. That makes Review Meetings fairly difficult, as the slackers simply get by on “Ya dude, I’m following up with her but she’s out of town until Monday.” NB – The internet has a lot of interesting stuff on Meetings; see link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4 and link 5.
- Loads and loads more, but I want to keep that for another post. Also a ploy to hopefully keep you hooked.