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Moving up the corporate ladder

Published On: 21 Jan 2011 | Last Updated On: 24 Jan 2012

While there is no real substitute for a focused approach to one’s talent, career or business, is lobbying the way to move up the ladder in corporates?

According to Wikipedia, lobbying is defined as a form of advocacy with the intention of influencing decisions made by legislators and officials in the government by individuals, other legislators, constituents, or advocacy groups. In the corporate world, lobbying can be defined as an art of influencing someone’s thoughts and actions in order to gain mileage out of any particular action. Says Jessie Paul, founder and CEO, Paul Writer’s Strategic Advisory, “Lobbying is the use of constructive dialogue and data to influence policy decisions.   In some countries, such as the US, lobbying is regulated and incorporated into the system.  A firm may need the use of a lobbyist to put across their opinions to the government. It is more common in India, however, for companies to express their views on policies through trade bodies such as CII or NASSCOM.  These outfits represent the interests of industry to the lawmakers and try to benefit the industry rather than an individual company.”

"Lobbying is not inherently good or bad. It is one of the tools that we all use to represent ourselves. Great leaders ‘lobby’ an entire population when they speak. Non-government and non-profit organisations use lobbying routinely to further their cause, whether it’s land rights, equal opportunity, cure for AIDS etc. Similarly, profit making organisations (who are also large employers and play a big role in society) also use lobbying to see the best way to represent their interests. The question is where does lobbying end and where does manipulation begin? The US has a good history of keeping lobbying professional, protected and useful. For example, the first amendment protects the right of every citizen in the US to lobby the government for any cause and at the same time there is public disclosure of lobbying efforts. India could similarly professionalise the business, to avoid confusion,” says Dennis Taraporewala, Director, Criesse Communications.

So do corporates need lobbyists to act as mediators? “A lobbyist brings opportunities which can bring effective growth to the business and organisation; though opportunities do exist but a lobbyist increases the chances to get things in favour of an organisation he/she works for,” says Sunil Goel, Director, GlobalHunt, an executive search firm.

“A company or industry's dependence on lobbying depends on the extent to which they rely on the government for the success of their business.  When the government plays a very large role in the profits of the company/industry and is opaque in its decision-making, firms will begin to rely on lobbyists to explain their position to the government.  If the government opens up direct, transparent channels for consultation with industry bodies then the need for lobbying will reduce,” adds Paul.

So is lobbying required in corporates to move up the ladder? “No. I think at the end of it, it’s your performance which is counted in terms of moving up the corporate ladder. If you have a robust Performance Management System, and you are able to measure the performance in absolute terms then you don’t need lobbyists to act as a mediator.
The business climate is dynamic in nature and it’s the acumen of the leader to proactively address the needs and change of the strategy and minimise the risk. In that case there is no requirement of lobbyists. A system which is scalable, open, transparent is the need of an hour,” explains Rahul Kulkarni-Head HR, Kale Consultants.

However says Taraporewala, “It depends on the corporate culture of the company you work in. Though it often does help to effectively communicate your good work to your colleagues, superiors and partners. At the same time if you are only seen as someone "tom-toming" ones work, you could get labeled as a "show off" or people could get fatigued from your personal communications.”

Lobbying or not, there is no substitute for a genuine and heart-filled approach. People can often subtly pick up a person's genuineness from their tone, manner and behaviour. And if the purpose is not handled in the right manner, it can prove harmful for an organisation.

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