A Lateral Lift…!!!

Growth doesn’t always have to be upwards. We explore the horizontal growth paradigm.

In the corporate world, ambition is often symbolised by the boss’ job. But what if you don’t want your boss’ job? What if you’d rather grow horizontally rather than vertically? Growth comes in many shapes and sizes and not all of it is synonymous with leadership or management.

In today’s environment, do we have the space for people who genuinely do not want to manage/lead – who want to simply explore their own repertoire of skills? “A successful organisation is an amalgamation of different people with different skill-sets weaved together to achieve organisational goals. It’s quite natural in today’s dynamic business environment that we have a motley of people who have different working styles. Someone could be a fantastic team player while another could be more focused on his/her vertical/domain and may not want to actively assume a lead role,” opines Eberhard Kern, managing director and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India. “We have moved people from sales to marketing and vice versa, purely to give them the exposure and skills that their current role couldn’t provide. When moving from marketing to sales, a person develops real-time customer and consumer insights, learns empathy and sharpens negotiation skills for instance. Vice-versa, a sales person develops clear marketing insights, drivers to pricing and margins, creative thinking, etc,” shares Asha Gupta, managing director, Indian Subcontinent, Tupperware.

Many of us work in smaller teams and sometimes, we may not want our boss’ job. In such cases, growth may mean taking on a role that is parallel but challenging in a different way. “Many a times, vertical growth happens only after a horizontal one and this is the phenomenon that people have to accept. It would be important for people to understand that many jobs at the top require multifarious personalities and capabilities gained by performing different jobs at a parallel level and after some time, these are the people who move to a senior (vertical) role,” reveals Prince Augustin, executive VP, group human capital & leadership development, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. “Developmental experiences can result from horizontal transitions to another function, line of business, organisation, industry sector or region. A horizontal move is not a promotion, but calls for new expertise. It enables managers to experience a different work culture, a different nature and purpose of work, and different systems and processes. Increasingly, organisations are beginning to understand the merit of a horizontal movement as a key developmental tool at their disposal,” explains Stephen Remedios, faculty APAC, The Center for Creative Leadership.

Are organisations open to individuals who have moved horizontally in their career rather than vertically? “To ensure your employees feel connected with the organisation and contribute towards its success rather than seeing it as a nine to six job, it is extremely important for a company to discover the strengths of its employees and where their passions lie. If given an opportunity, they can create great products, new breakthrough solutions or can go on to become great customer relationship managers or fantastic sales executives,” avers Vikram Goel, manager – strategic initiatives, Tech Mahindra. “In Singapore’s public service sector, emerging leaders are intentionally rotated among statutory boards, agencies and ministries to prepare them to handle a diversity of governmental operations and to broaden their strategic perspective,” says Remedios. Thus, horizontal growth can be as fruitful as vertical growth.

Date:28th August 2013


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