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The 5 Levels of Growth for YOU in an Organization

Based on my personal experience in the corporate world, observations and interactions with individuals at various levels in the organization hierarchy, I have identified that there are 5 distinct levels for any individual in an organization.

These levels are characterized by whether YOU are qualified, competent and empowered to make decisions along the following dimensions:
1) What you should do?
2) When you should do?
3) How you should do?
4) Who should be involved?
5) Why you should do what you do?

The key distinguishing trait is whether you decide for yourself or others decide for you on each of the above dimensions. And others can be your team, your peers, your boss, your customers, your partners, your management, etc. In many cases, it may be a team who finally decides by consensus, but the question is “Do YOU have the ability to influence the final decision?”

In the table below, I have depicted the differences between the various levels

Who decides

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4

Level 5

What you should do? Others Others Others, You You You
When you should do? Others Others Others, You You You
How you should do? Others Others, You Others, You You You
Who should be involved? Others Others, You Others, You You You
Why you should do what you do? Others Others Others Others You

So, as an example let me illustrate how you should interpret this table. At Level 3 the decision makers for each of the questions are below

1) What you should do? – Others and You. So you have an influence in this decision
2) When you should do? – Others and You. So you have an influence in this decision
3) How you should do? – Others and You. So you have an influence in this decision
4) Who should be involved? – Others and You. So you have an influence in this decision
5) Why you should do what you do? – Others. So you have NO influence in this decison and it is made purely by others for you.

Points to Note:

1) Your presence in a particular level is completely independent of your experience or tenure in a company. So for e.g.: An entrepreneur who has just set-up a new venture will be at Level 5 & an employee who has spent 2 decades in an organization may be at Level 3

2) Choosing to be at a specific level or planning to move to the next level is determined by a variety of factors – Its usually a function of individual competence, ambition, opportunity and organization ecosystem support

3) Your personal and professional growth is directly linked to the level you are currently in

Pause of Reflect
Which Level are you currently in?
Which Level do you want to be in?
How do you plan to get there?

How presentations differ in the organization heirarchy?

Over the recent past, I have been part of the audience when employees at different levels in the organization hierarchy made presentations (Different situations and different audiences and different intent) – Starting from employees at the entry level to very senior business leaders.

My observations:

• In terms of length / number of slides, senior business leaders had very short presentations (typically less than 10 slides) – irrespective of the topic; while entry level and less experienced employees had very long presentations (more than 25 slides) – again irrespective of the topic

• Content on each slide for senior business leaders was very limited. Of course, they were able to speak on 1 slide on which they had 1 sentence for 10 minutes – This is a function of clarity in thought, presence of mind, knowledge and a wealth of experience on a subject. On the other and, entry level and less experienced employees found it tough to speak even for 1 minute on a slide which had at least 10 detailed points

• Senior business leaders made an effort to know the audience profile before they began the presentation; while entry level and less experienced employees made no specific / explicit efforts to gather audience profile

• Senior business leaders made significant eye contact with their audience and modified the presentation flow based on the pulse of the audience; entry level and less experienced employees made significant contact with the presentation (and minimized / avoided contact with the audience) and followed the flow as outlined in their presentation. Audience engagement, queries and connect seemed to be of lower priority in comparison to completing the presentation by walking through all the slides

• Senior business leaders had at least 15% of the overall time scheduled for audience questions, inputs and feedback; entry level and less experienced employees mostly did not want to have any specific time for questions

• Senior business leaders typically focused on ensuring that the audience left with at least 2-3 key messages / take-a-ways; entry level and less experienced employees did not have too much focus on audience take-a-ways. Again focus was on completing the presentation

NOTE: All above have been based on my experiences only.

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