As a recipient of the award myself a few years back, I had the privilege of being invited as a jury member for the Global CIO awards organized by a global industry publication. It was a big responsibility to shoulder as almost all the nominated CIOs were friends who shared a drink or a joke in the past. I felt unsettled about it, wondering about the impact it may create on the relationships shared. At the same time, I was excited about it with the honor being conferred to be considered for this big task.
Being part of the jury
This was not the first time I have been on any jury; there have been many instances where along with industry veterans, global luminaries and celebrities, and academia, I contributed to the selection of award winners. In most cases, the nominees were upcoming leaders; in a few cases, where the subject was the CIO or a CEO, other jury members, by virtue of their seniority, carried the process well without pressuring the junior members. Many of these awards recognized companies and not individuals thus making it easy. This was the first time that I had this wonderful opportunity and I was nervous.
The process was fairly well laid out with well-structured data and defined evaluation criteria. Each jury member was selected from different backgrounds and was provided the same information to analyze and independently create the list of winners. The common list with validations would be then declared as the final winners. So far so good!
Listening dispassionately to each pitch without clouding influence from past interactions is difficult. Spread over a fortnight, the discussions left me richer with new insights that I could imbibe, a benefit rarely possible with otherwise guarded conversations on challenges and tactics used to overcome them.
My respect multiplied for most of the contestants with the learning gained; my achievements suddenly looked insignificant in comparison. On the designated evening as they collected the awards, the new bond shared with the winners created warmth to be cherished for a long time.
The value of peer recognition
Recently, I too was subjected to peer judgment in another open list being compiled by an industry association which sought to recognize the “Most Respected CIOs” in India. Self-nominations were not allowed; neither were the individuals that CIOs reported into were allowed to nominate the CIOs from their own group companies. It was a selection by peer CIOs who were asked to nominate others. With open ended questions and selection based purely on votes, the contest was wide open to anyone.
I believe that peer recognition especially from high performers is difficult to achieve when the starting benchmark is the performance of the person judging. People observe behaviors and form opinions that are difficult to change. The foremost element that matters is Trust which in turn over a period of time builds Respect. It does not happen overnight but can be lost in a moment. It was gratifying to be voted to the list and staying there as the voting progressed.
Investments in sharing, learning, coaching, and mentoring pay rich long-term dividends; it is important to give as much as it is to receive.