Today we will talk a little bit about career progression. Getting into the right career is one thing and sustaining yourself through the career maze is something else.

While getting into the right career is all about your interests , passion and curiosity , building a successful career is about having the right skills for the role.

To explain how an organisation works lets take an example of our cricket team and what are the essential skill sets needed to build a world class team

Have you ever thought what would happen if our cricket team didnt have a coach? Why did BCCI spend so much time interviewing coaches. Coaches had to present their strategy for coming world cups and other international matches. Coaches are an integral part of any sport because they are responsible for the overall strategy and roadmap of the team. Their job is to have a clear vision and make sure the vision is executed within a specific time frame. In the corporate world the executive management defines this vision and is comprised of the CEO, CFO and other CXOs who lead the company. They define what business the firm is in and what new markets they will expand into. Executive management needs to be a leader, market savvy and have tons of experience in business.

In cricket, the team captain comes next. The captain is responsible for maintaining the cohesiveness of the team and also ensure that whatever vision is laid out by the coach is executed without any issues. The captain needs to be a team player and earn the respect of the team. A similar analogy in an organisation is the senior management (VPs, Directors etc) who lead their own teams in their departments to ensure their teams are able to execute the vision and strategy as directed by CXOs. This role requires professionals who are people friendly, process savvy and operational in their approach.

Sports is always known for specialists. Whether they are wicket keepers or fast bowlers or best batsmen, their job is to carry a lot of responsibility on their shoulders and single-handedly (or as part of a team) demolish the opposition to win the game. They work cross-functionally with other divisions to get the job done. Product Managers, Architects, researchers and Principal engineers come under this category which requires leadership, domain expertise, critical thinking and lots of maturity. They dont have any direct reports and are very independent.

Finally, we have the team members who complete the tasks assigned to them by the captain whether its fielding or bowling or batting. Their job is to accomplish what is expected of them and make sure they contribute to the success of the game. These are the team members who report to their managers and have a basic level of experience to complete the job.

A combination of all the above roles makes an organization successful. It is very important for each of you to understand the requirements of the role and figure out what comes naturally to you and what doesnt.

In India, there is much bigger requirement for people managers  and team members and the expectation is that a team member ends up in a senior manager role as his/her career progresses. Unlike overseas, there are  fewer opportunities for individual contributors who excel in cross-functional roles without the need to manage people .

However if you are person who thinks that you have specialist skills and you dont like people management, there is no cause to worry. There are a lot of new firms that require these skills. You need to be more selective and patient and you will get the right opportunity.