In every company, there are a few employees who stand out. They’re the ones who always finish first, get recognized for their accomplishments and eventually make their way up the ranks. Invariably, they know how to play the political game. But there are other qualities that world-class performers have in common. Here’s how you can be one of them.
1. Be obsessed with productivity. The best employees tend to work in jobs and businesses they love. As a result, thoughts of how to be more successful and productive rarely leave their mind. In fact, the great ones have to force themselves into non-work activities just to give their mind a chance to rest and recover.
2. Solve problems. Problem solving is the cornerstone of commerce. Average employees tend to spend more time jockeying for position to gain favor from their superiors than they do solving problems. Great ones are not interested in management kudos; they are interested in results. World-class managers and employees solve problems quickly and move on to solving bigger, more complex problems, whether individually or as part of a team.
3. Take risks. The most common commodity in corporate America is the sales manager who craves the approval and friendship of his sales team. The second most common commodity is the sales manager who rules her team with an iron fist, refusing to consider feedback or input from the field.
World-class leaders are neither dictators nor micromanagers. Instead, they have two primary objectives: increase revenues and bring out the best in the people they lead. That might mean being unpopular and pushing people beyond their comfort zones, or being there for a team member who has hit rock bottom. These leaders can adapt to any situation. The great ones never play it safe when it comes to leading their teams through change, knowing their job is to serve as a guide and coach.
4. Have a strong work ethic. Amateurs work just hard enough to escape being fired. They expect to be compensated for every little thing they do – if they can be over-compensated, even better.
The pros have exactly the opposite mindset. They understand that the marketplace will richly reward a world-class work ethic with an endless stream of opportunities. This work ethic is the reason so many immigrants come to the free world and become millionaires. They’re so grateful for the opportunity to work hard that no one can convince them to slow down.
5. Find a coach. Corporate America and entrepreneurs are starting to catch on to something that athletes have always known: if you want to maximize your potential in anything, hire a coach. Coaching is to performance what leadership is to an organization. Since human beings are primarily emotional creatures, competent coaches are experts in stoking the fires that burn within. The more coachable and open-minded your employees, the better they’ll perform.
Trouble is, ego can get in the way. The best employees are the most open to world-class coaching. They don’t care about ego satisfaction when it comes to improving their results; all they’re looking for is an edge, no matter how slight. When two companies or opponents go head-to-head, many times the only thing that favors the winner is a slight edge in thinking, strategy and technique.