“How was your appraisal meeting this time?” I asked my friend
“Good overall”. he said. “But as always I got a feedback that I am not aggressive”, he continued.
“Being in FMCG Sales is not easy”, I said as I tried to lift his spirits up!
With that conversation in the backdrop, I started un-winding myself by catching up on sports and got hooked on to Saina Nehwal’s press conference after winning the Australia Super Series Championship. Who doesn’t love it when Saina wins!
‘I want to be aggressive like Virat Kohli because the more aggressive you are, the better you perform’, she was saying. She said she had not been playing aggressively while her competitors were and learning Virat like aggression has helped her improve her game! Whoa!
Aggression. It comes again.
What is it about being aggressive that a peace loving tribe like ours wants to get more & more of it?
What does being aggressive in a corporate set-up mean?
In Sales, one is considered aggressive when he/she leads by example, which means ensuring last mile execution every single time. You should come across as somebody who is demanding of self and drives the team to achieve stretched goals. An aggressive manager doesn’t accept failures or slips easily says Ravi Kandara. A Branch Manager with ITC ltd., Ravi continues and says that Aggression doesn’t mean you have to raise your noise levels, it should reflect in your body language.
In FMCG sales, it is used to loosely describe a person who will achieve the target at any cost. While this used to be an extremely desirable trait around a few days back, but I guess persistence more than aggression is the key these days, says Varun Oberoi, a sales & marketing professional with over 10 years of experience.
In a sales environment, the targets would typically be broken into 3 categories:
- the bare minimum level of achievement
- a desirable level of achievement
- a power-up kind of target which seems almost impossible, but who knows some rock-star might achieve it
So, would someone who goes all out in ensuring he is in between 2&3 would be considered a really aggressive guy?
May be not.
Aggression is more about an attitude and not performance. An aggressive person may not always be able to achieve results. He is focused on just the achievement of the goal and nothing else around him matters.
Virat Kohli had once said, On the field, aggression can sometimes be a positive emotion. It boosts performance and can lift your game. But over the years, I have learnt that restrained aggression is a better animal. That way, you will conserve your energy and won’t spend yourself quickly.
So, is aggression more of an individual trait or could it also evolve into a company culture? Would a business leader be looking at aggression as a desirable trait in his employees?
Prateek Agrawal, CEO & co-founder Stylofie says- As an employee, positive aggression helps in being a smart worker & sharper the skills. Aggressive employees want to be ahead of others & if energies are channelized properly, such employees dedicate a lot of time learning new tools & smarter ways to finish their work faster. A good CEO knows to pace the speed of company properly in business & not let the business move like an untamed horse! Thus aggression is required to dominate the market, but patience is required to tame this aggression.
While going through all of this, I wondered why as HR didn’t we ever do things around managing or developing aggression in people if it was such a desirable thing to have? Why did none of our competencies or values ever read as Be Aggressive.
Vishal Choudhary, HR Head for UPU circle of Airtel is pretty disillusioned with aggression. He says I don’t understand why everything has to be made as if we are at war! What is more important-aggression or unshakable will? If we study the lives of people who reached great heights, we will invariable encounter one pattern- unshakable will to win. Aggression is mindlessness; unshakable is mindfulness. Mindfulness leads to peace of mind whereas aggression leads to turmoil. If we are at peace with our actions, we will never be a war with the outcomes. Mindfulness leads to peace of action and its outcomes; aggression keeps us fighting with both. Choice is ours!
So, while we would love to see more of our sports icons, who get professional coaching to demonstrate aggression that helps them win medals for the country, our advice to the young corporate professionals would be to not look at short term goal posts but look at your career as a journey. It is very easy to get swayed by aggression and marvel at the results & high it gives but without an expert who can help you channelize that energy, don’t go that route!
“I hope we are successful at Virgin because we engage with everyone in a positive, inclusive manner rather than in an aggressive, combative or negative way,” Richard Branson had once said.
(The views expressed by individuals are personal and do not reflect the opinions/views of the organization they work for)