Attitude – the under-rated “Y-Axis”…(and other 2×2 matrices)

One of my friends from b-school had told me 18 years back that he used to plot every person he met on a Sincerity-Competence 2×2 matrix. That was one of the top ten lessons I have retained from going to b-school (different from studying in a b-school – a full article on “going to college versus studying in a college” seems to be lurking somewhere ). My friend was a huge fan of high-competence and together, we almost made fun of low competence-high sincerity types and the sheer waste of having such a combo – I mean, what’s the use of running fast, if you are running fast in a wrong direction, correct ?

No, actually…the past 17 years of being in the real world has changed my view 180 degrees. I have come to a firm conclusion that “High attitude” on the Attitude-Aptitude 2×2 matrix is a huge advantage in majority of the roles in corporate life. Of course, falling in the first quadrant of High Attitude-High Aptitude gives one a high chance of landing leadership roles. However, I have met a number of leaders or at least good-performing managers who would fall in the fourth quadrant of slightly lower aptitude but having a high attitude. For the “High aptitude-Low attitude” types, please remember that attitude can be pumped up temporarily, especially while landing jobs, projects or a stint, but it is tough to maintain beyond a few months, leave alone years.

Of course, some jobs require high levels of domain expertise, knowledge, analytical skills and hence a high level of intelligence. These might be science & tech R&D, quantitative modelling, rocket science (the NASA one), but wasn’t it Einstein who remarked “I am not more intelligent than others; I just stick with the problems longer” ?

Some of the 2×2 matrices which I use to evaluate people are listed below. I have developed some of them or copied some in my “sub-conscience”. I use these regularly (and interchangeably) to gauge whether I want this person on my team or not. They are :
Sincerity-Competence 2×2 matrix
Attitude-Aptitude 2×2 matrix
IQ- I Can 2×2 matrix
IQ vs CQ 2×2 matrix. CQ is Corporate Quotient, which I define as the basic way of behaviour in a corporate, taking people along, understanding effect of different things on people – something which Sheldon Cooper might rate as at zero !
Talent-Motivation 2×2 matrix. One of my senior colleagues asks candidates “are you hungry for success ? How hungry ?” When I ask those candidates as to what is the absolute GDP of India, my colleague smiles at me. For him, being a “motivated” individual ranks very high
Fire-Shaayar 2×2 matrix. In corporate life, we need people to be articulate and having good presentation skills, like a Urdu Shaayar (yes indeed, I meant that one). But having “fire-in-the-belly” far exceeds this packaging aspect, in my book.

So, please work on developing the sincerity/positive attitude/I-Can…become a self-starter…needs discipline and hard work…tough but not impossible…for smart guys like you.

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