Secret Diary Of A CEO 2017

"It's not enough to command respect, your teammates should accept you"

Secret Diary of RS Sodhi Part-2

Photograph by Soumik Kar

I was to join Jaipur as a senior sales officer. There was already a sales officer named Rajiv Verma, who had joined GCMMF after eight years with Bata; in contrast, I was just 23 years old, fresh from my MBA with zero work experience. I was told he would receive me at Jaipur station. But he didn’t show up and I made my way to an IRMA classmate’s relative’s house. As it happened, Verma was their neighbour and I met him later the same day. He was good, very dignified — presuming he was going to be in charge. 

learning sales the pillion wayI would go with Verma on his Bajaj scooter to meet distributors; he would always introduce me as his colleague. I was taken aback initially but after spending some time with him, I learnt my first lesson — workwise, he was better than me. From him, I learnt how to draft letters, how to speak over the telephone. I would have to prove myself. That opportunity came some eight or nine months later. Blue Star had introduced a concept calling walking cooler as an improvement over the traditional cooler. Our head office had recommended buying it. During my project work at IRMA, I had learnt a lot about coolers. I made a proper analysis — both technically and financially — and presented a PERT chart to Mr Padmanabhan, the distribution manager, demonstrating that the new technology was not necessary right then, given the costs involved. It was only after this that Verma really accepted me. Even today, I tell new recruits that you cannot command respect because of a degree. Only your work can give you credibility. 

There was a key difference between Verma and me. My strength was in sales analysis, whereas he was excellent in communication. We went on to become good friends and made a good working team. I learnt several field-related skills from him, also one big HR lesson — it’s not enough to command respect, your teammates also should accept you. You cannot create a team by authority. 

RS Sodhi - Goodbye to bachelor days

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