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The Art of Being Great

by Dr Cedric Nazareth


A few days ago, I was stunned to learn of the sudden death following a road accident of my one-time colleague, Praveen Mukne. For him to be snatched away so prematurely is indeed a cruel blow to all who knew him. Praveen was sensitive, gentlemanly and good at his work - a great guy. The loss of a great human being is always more difficult to bear. This article is inspired by his greatness.

Greatness need not always come with big things, but a great guy can leave a lasting impression even with small things. We have all come across those geeks -- competent at their job, but impossible to get along with. Then there also are those gone-cases -- neither good at work nor with their interpersonal skills. There could also be people who are easy to get along with, but relatively incompetent at their jobs. But for a good manager - in fact for any human being - what is required is a high level of concern for both people and work results.

Managers can be characterised based on their concern for accomplishing predetermined tasks and on their people management skills. A grid showing concern for results and concern for people, both measured on scales of 1 to 9, would find the best among us notching 9,9 (high level of concern for results, high level of concern for people), with a poor showing being reflected as 1,1 (low level of concern for results, low level of concern for people). The 9,9 ones make a difference and leave lasting impressions.

So is a 9,9 rating the only route to greatness? Perhaps not, but anyone who makes the 9,9 mark probably possesses a whole host of “great” characteristics -- dynamism, dedication, sincerity, leadership, compassion, magnanimity, intelligence....the list could go on. Do not, however, mistake greatness for fame. There are so many really great people out there who are not famous on even a regional or local scale. But yet, they touch our lives with a warmth that is lacking in a 9,1 (high level of concern for results, low level of concern for people) achiever.

Sensitivity makes a difference -- one which facilitates a better understanding of people and issues. Most of us would hardly be deliberately insensitive, but yet we may fall short of making that extra effort to help enhance our sensibilities. Of course, sensitivity alone is not enough, and a manager should not do a good job of managing people by compromising the job on hand. Our grid will show such types at 1,9 (low level of concern for results, high level of concern for people). Then there could also be those with a moderate level of concern for results and a moderate level of concern for people (5,5). Perhaps these managers need more commitment, and in any case all should endeavour to be 9,9.

Surely, great people are more than just some numbers on a grid. We would probably expect them to embody several of the values that we cherish, and to be charismatic and respected as well. We would also expect them to have enough competitive edge to stay ahead in a fast-moving world. And yet they would be human too. They would be the nice guys who also finish first. Praveen Mukne was much of all this, and more.

October 2000 Pharma Marketing Page.
This article appreared in Pharma Business, November 3, 2000.
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