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Is godfather a pill to success?

Can currying favour with the big boss take you to the top of the corporate ladder? Vibhuti Agarwal finds out. Can a godfather help achieve success?
None | By Vibhuti Agarwal (, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 11, 2006 05:04 PM IST

Are you a member of the protected class, the select few who get plum assignments, get to go on junkets abroad, a core team that can generally get away even with murder?

If you are one of those few 'lucky' ones, then know that you have the big daddies supporting you.

Picture this: You have worked really hard to get a promotion. You walk into office everyday with a spring in your step, spend a grueling ten hours sorting documents, and walk out of work looking like a bedraggled hamster.

You would, after having done this for a couple of years, expect some reward. And when that reward comes in the shape of a new senior manager - a portly youth, whose only claim to his position is that he is the supreme chief's cousin; you are bound to feel a little raw.

If it is any consolation, let the reality sink in that the world is not always fair, it is not meant to be. Of course, this is a cynical generalisation. But every time one turns around, one sees evidence of people taking shortcuts to get ahead.

So, do you also belong to that lot of people who think currying favour with the big boss is the quickest route to the top of the corporate ladder?

Chetan Bhagat, the renowned author of bestsellers like 'One Night @Call Centre' and 'Five Point Someone' explains, "Having a godfather can help achieve some success. But it may be difficult to sustain it until you have some talent.

At the same time, it is possible to be successful without a godfather. But for this: i) you have to be spectacular, not just good enough, or ii) you work in a meritocratic society. Overall, I think more than the success, how you get there is important. If you know you got there through unfair means, you will never enjoy the real satisfaction of success."

However, in the corporate world, there are the bosses' 'blue-boys and girls.'

Managers have often been condemned for suffering from selective amnesia. But do the long lunches and time spent in your godfather's office really give you the short cut to move ahead in career?

Rajdeep Sardesai, the chief editor of Global Broadcasting News, CNN-IBN, believes that everybody needs a mentor for the initial boost or kick in the career.

"Nothing can beat hard work and labour in an industry. But a good mentor can shorten your trip to success and keep you in the game when times are tough. I wouldn't use the word godfather or big daddy, but the importance of a mentor cannot be discounted. If you're seeking help, get it from those who have been through the battle and won."

There are several routes to success. To become a fast track candidate, one has to understand the fast track formula. Following that route will help you rise through the ranks faster and give you a competitive edge every step of the way.

Shamita Shetty, the glamorous Bollywood actress articulates, "It's always nice to have somebody in the industry whom you can look up to. A godfather or mentor can provide an arm around your shoulder when things have not gone well, introduce you to the right people, and give a pat on the back when you have achieved your goals. But end of the day, it is your own hard work which pays."

The key point is that the fast track path only brings you to the threshold of senior management challenge. The best route to the top is the one that prepared you for what lies in store.

Nidhi Razdan, the popular face and news-anchor of NDTV 24x7 strongly believes that there can be no shortcuts to success.

"People give lame excuses by saying that godfathers help you succeed in life. Those indulging in conspiracy theory cannot go far. Infact, your work is always being closely scrutinised. Your performance is measured by how you communicate, how likeable you are and what attitude you bring. Especially, in a place like television media, your success depends on how good an anchor you can be. Nobody can risk putting mediocre people at the forefront these days."

Success requires a certain understanding of what's going on around you. What a person thinks of himself is what ultimately determines his fate.

Jigar Parikh, working with GE Capital, says that most people are unwilling to take up this issue.

"After all, it takes guts to point out what's wrong with the emperor's new clothes. Nobody can tell you exactly how to become successful," he says.

And as he quips, "Lasting success must be achieved through passion, and only you know what you are passionate about. It's about time we pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps and cried, 'But the emperor's wearing no clothes!'"

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