Who does not want to be a leader in their chosen field? We all 'Aspire to Inspire', don’t we? Well, the essence of Effective Leadership is 'Trust' and this applies to an Individual and an Organization. Having said that, how many Institutes in India are genuinely focused on achieving ‘100 percent Student Delight’? Many Engineering colleges in our country have chucked away core Engineering streams and have only Computer Science Engineering students. We cannot blame them; they seem to be in-sync with the ‘market’ and are practising the demand-supply theory. Parents of an Engineering graduate would obviously focus on the ‘Return on Investment’ and for most of them, it is a simple and straightforward formula: ‘More is the salary; better is the stream/career’. Hence, owing to the parental / peer pressure, many students force themselves into IT sector.
However, in this marriage with the profession, if you are not emotionally connected with it, you can never really be happy with it. Hence, understanding and building awareness of various career options is highly important before making a career choice and one should know to make a fair comparison before taking a decision. No doubt, it is a wonderful feeling when you become the reason for the celebration of your family and friends. However, one should also understand that every profession is good, if we are good with it and opportunities will always be available for those who have the competencies to grab them.
After all, is not it an amazing feeling to see that ‘absolute delight’ on the face of your students? Nothing can substitute the joy you attain when your students become achievers in their chosen field. However, the process of accomplishing this ambitious task of ‘indexing the intangible’ is highly challenging. Many times while facilitating Campus Placements, we are so engrossed in achieving an increase in the ‘Placement Percentage’ that, we sometimes forget to introspect: ‘Are we really giving our stakeholders what they really want?’ Well, what is the use of those ‘percentage triumphs’ if we end up having even a single dissatisfied student? Hence, it is not only a great responsibility that we have towards our students but also towards all the other key stakeholders.
"Coaching and Mentoring of students is highly important, however, it is also an extremely sensitive task"
The first step in this adventurous journey is, to help the students gain clarity about their aspiration. A vast majority of the students lack awareness about the various career opportunities and hence, are unable to make an informed choice of their career. ‘Career Awareness & Counselling Program’ is the key to student empowerment. Such programs should ideally happen during the Higher Secondary / Pre- University Schooling and during Engineering; the students should be exposed to domain specific ‘Career Awareness Programs’. But, since this doesn’t happen in most of the schools, the majority of the students chose Engineering out of pressure and not as a well-informed choice.
As it is an arranged marriage and not a cupid union with their Career, many times we need to play the role of a counsellor. My experience says, all that a student wants is someone responsible from the Institute, who can be their friend and allow them to express themselves freely about their aspirations. Coaching and Mentoring of students is highly important, however, it is also an extremely sensitive task. Initially, students may not have the pull to look at the bigger picture about their Career. They may lack the belief and conviction in themselves and you. They may rebel and revolt changes that force them to move out of their comfort zone. Sometimes, you may have to break them to make them. Hence, in most cases, they have to be 'Trained' first and then be Coached / Mentored.
The 8 Fold Paths of Leadership
1. Realize the dynamics and importance of ‘Working with People’
2. Understand the ‘Expectations of all the Stake Holders’ and strive to ‘delight’ them
3. ‘Work Efficiently and Speak Effectively’
4. ‘Lead by example’. Show your people how it is done and they will surely learn.
5. Have a ‘healthy work-life balance’ and help your people to embrace the same.
6. ‘Synergize your Team's Effort’ by creating a common purpose
7. Be open to ‘Give & Take Feedback’.
8. Aspire to Inspire. Let the responsibility to Coach / Mentor the students, continue to fascinate us and bring the best out of us.
Attitudinal Training / Coaching should focus on bringing a genuine and strong 'Will to Skill'. I firmly believe that ‘Skill follows Will’. The power of self-belief is such that, what appears impossible to others, will be a possibility for those with conviction and confidence. If one is clear about the “What” and “Why” about their career, one will automatically start exploring the answers for the “How”, “When”, “Where” and any other related questions. ‘Clarity of Purpose’, ‘Passion to Learn / Grow’ and the intent to be a ‘Value Addition to the Society’ are the three most important self-faculties for an individual’s holistic learning and development. The more competent we are, the more confident we become. And, if the effort put in to achieve a task is optimum and in the right direction, the desired result has to follow.
Keshav Sridhar completed his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical at National Institute of Engineering (NIE). He is currently the Training & Development Manager at the Birla Institute of Technology & Science where he is Spearheading the Training Wing of Placement Unit of BITS Pilani University.