Godfathers, Gladiators and Goal posts

Godfathers, Gladiators and Goal posts

There is no formula for success except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of the act and what it brings.
― Arthur Rubinstein

“Do you need godfathers to grow in professional life?”

I was loving the Lychee ice-cream melting in my mouth when the question was asked by a young family friend who just started to work. With no such mortals in my career, I replied, “NO, you can grow on your own; on your own terms and according your own will.”

The young friend insisted, “It’s not about you, but the truth.”

What is the truth? I have seen amazing individuals as my colleagues who have grown and reached the pinnacle of success without Godfathers/Godmothers; they stand tall and inspire many to emulate. There are also some who become his/her master’s voice, thus become a Gladiator. If the relationship is in direct reporting, then it becomes even more difficult and less acceptable around. At one point the dependency of the Godfather with the Gladiator or Gladiator with the Godfather becomes so interdependent that they become one and the same or even act as alter egos for each other.

The question is, will these envied Gladiators succeed in new, not so friendly, difficult environments? Will they negotiate and thrive in unknown, trying territories to reach their Goalposts?

This takes me to a question my father posed to me and my cousin many years back, we were fourteen full of ourselves and super arrogant. He asked, “What will you do if one fine morning you wake up in a new environment not knowing anyone or the place?”

We were not sure whether it would be a ‘fine morning’ or not. But on second thoughts with the nagging my aunt and mother are capable, it just might be! We came up with all the smart susceptible answers. He persisted, asking us to ponder over the question longer, how we will survive, what will we do and what will we pursue. This was very difficult at that time, but helped me many years later whenever I had to get past the cold, arduous, grim wall of unknown space as a new team member in a new organization.

Does having Godfathers have an undue advantage? What is wrong with a Godfather helping one climb up the ladder or reach Goalposts?

Well, the freedom of not having a godfather is, you will have your achievements speaking rather than a godfather doing it for you, titles sit easily on your shoulders, more respect among peers; you learn to meander the hierarchies obvious and hidden, you learn to navigate and negotiate thus empathize and collaborate while you grow; all this is somewhat difficult if you have a Godfather’s shadow casting their magic spell.

Sunitha Lal is a Human Resources professional and organizational culture expert, based out of Bangalore. She has over 25 years of experience spanning diverse industries and geographies. Because of her keen interest in understanding human behavior, she views organizational dynamics through the lens of behavioral science, psychology, and anthropology.  

1 Comment

  1. Sesha Srikanth 9 years ago

    Good one Sunitha Madam. In LIFE Inclusiveness, Acceptance are important factors and having a Godfather/Mentor is really important.

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