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Personality Development - Analogy of Human Pyramid

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Damodar Padhi, VP & Global Head - Talent Development, TCS TCS is the global leaders in IT services, digital, and business solutions which provides services like Quality Engineering, Business Operations, Consulting & System Integration, and many others, as well as technologies like AI, Big Data, IoT, and many more.

I grew-up as a mom’s boy, and till I discovered studying is rather a serious thing, I constantly followed her wherever she went. We used to grow seasonal vegetables in our backyard; one of my morning rituals was to follow my mother and help her in plucking vegetables from our garden. During one of the initial days of our teamwork, I had asked my mother, how she decides whether the brinjal was ready to be plucked. Her answer was that the time to pluck the brinjal was the time when it stops growing! That answer is still etched in my memory. From that day on, I actually never asked my mother about whether to pluck the brinjal or not. Instead, my question to her was whether the brinjal had stopped growing. Based on her answer, I took the decision whether to pluck it or not.

By the way, my mother never had any formal education, but even today, I still consider my mother’s spontaneous answer to my question about the ‘brinjal plucking’ is the best professional advice I have ever received in my career. Personally & professionally, we stop growing when we stop learning. Personality development is a lifelong process. Research by psychologists like Sigmund Freud, Erik Erikson, Jean Piaget and others helped lay the foundation for development of personality from birth to adolescence and young adulthood. Some of the latest research in neuroscience shows that the adult brain continues to grow with every challenge an individual faces and that these changes are directly linked to the development of personality and behavior. An enriched environment, providing opportunities for learning fosters the development of individuality and personality.

Like the stages of individual development described by the psychologists, learning starts at the very beginning of an individual’s entry into an organization. Onboarding is a crucial phase where trainees understand organization culture & values, pick-up the technology & process skills that will help them deliver & build their social & soft skills to learn and grow. Acculturation of a new hire is crucial in creating greater engagement, belongingness and bonding. A successful organization invests in building this first level of leaders. They are just like any other
individual contributors at the bottom of the pyramid, but with a bit of extra energy and curiosity in them.

As the individual grows in the organization – the need is to acquire more complex skills. The individual grows in the organization, acquiring greater responsibilities. The middle layers are truly tricky. Unless properly designed and executed, these layers could be extremely vulnerable. They have to balance between layers both above and below them, hence often feel sandwiched. The skills and attributes needed at this level are therefore very different. Experiential learning, simulations, learning from failures and coaching play an important role. As an individual grows in an organization into senior roles, the learning, organizational knowledge and experience gained over the year prepares them to play key roles in the organization, giving direction, growth and capability to build a successful organization.

"The growth of an individual in an organization mimics the developmental stages of his/her personality"

A truly enabling organization culture provides enriching opportunities for learning and growth for every individual, and provides opportunities for collaboration between people at different levels of the organization pyramid – much like the sport of Dahi Handi that builds on the collective strength and strategy of the human pyramid to conquer the jackpot! A festive event and a team sport, it teaches us several fundamental lessons that have been successfully used as guiding principles to build highly effective and successful organizations:

1. Collaboration is the key to meet the organizational goal of any kind. The jackpot is beyond the reach of any single individual.

2. The most stable and effective organizations emulate the shapes of balanced pyramids, they have their strongest people at the bottom in large numbers – people who can shoulder heavy load (of execution responsibilities)– and gradually lighter (read open minded and agile) people in the middle in moderate numbers to transmit and balance the load transmitted from the top. The lightest yet courageous people who are not afraid of the ‘height’ are at the top. Reward (of touching the Dahi Handi) at this level is experienced first-hand, true and exciting; reward and risk are the two sides of the same coin – the risk (of falling from a bigger height) at this level is also maximum! That is why it is reserved only for few people, like Krishna!

3. The number of tiers in the human pyramid must be at an optimum level for sustainability. If you indeed need to build a tall pyramid, you must strengthen the base first – before allowing more people to climb up to the upper tiers.

4. Staying at the ground and being a spectator comes naturally to everyone; few individuals gather courage and climb up to form the first layer. A successful organization invests in building this first level of leaders. They are just like any other individual contributors at the bottom of the pyramid, but with a bit of extra energy and curiosity in them.

5. At the middle manager level – to be successful they have to spread their arms out and hold each other, thereby forming a strong ring of reinforcement around them. Imagine one individual in any of the middle layers of the human pyramid standing on the shoulder of a person below him, while allowing another person to stand on his own shoulder without holding on to two other people on either side at his own level! In organizational context, one could be a client partner, or a consultant, or a group leader, or a program manager; one cannot win alone. Forming cross-functional teams and working with peers are critical for better alignment with organizational goals.

The growth of an individual in an organization mimics the developmental stages of his/her personality. Providing a nurturing environment through the right learning options and experiences will help in the growth and personality development of every individual to realize their potential result in the success of the organization.