Why do some people get ahead and others not? How can you make sure your potential is recognised? What is it that gets people promoted? To find out what exactly it is that separates a competent from an exceptional performer, the Harvard Business School collected data from over 50,000 evaluations conducted over the past five years on 4,158 individuals and compared the good with the best. This, in brief, is their advice for you.
1 Follow through on your promises
The best individuals in the study are careful to follow through on what they say. They walk the talk. Make sure that you don‘t say one thing and then do another.
2 Set exceptional goals
Top performers set and achieve exceptional goals that others thought were unrealistic. In addition, they encourage others to achieve their own goals.
3 Work with a team
Exceptional leaders are great team workers, and they foster teamwork in others. Many contributors choose to work independently, believing that as solo performers, they would be more likely to stand out. But as the Harvard researchers point out, the main purpose of an organisation is to create added value by working together.
4 Represent your group
The best individuals were often those who volunteered to represent their group to other departments in their organisations. Have the courage to raise your hand and volunteer to take on the extra work and responsibility of representing others.
Change is difficult, but it is essential for an organisation to survive. The best performers know this, and they don‘t resist it. So if you‘re involved in some kind of change process, embrace it.
6 Take the initiative
Great individuals don‘t wait to be told what to do. They offer their unique perspective and take action. What about you? How many processes in your organisation have your fingerprints all over them?
7 Weigh things up before you act
If they are in doubt about a decision, the best individuals don‘t rely on their own expertise, and they don‘t just wing it. In- stead, they are open to a wide range of solutions, and they think carefully about the consequences before they decide.
8 Learn from your mistakes
The best are quick to acknowledge their mistakes, and they do not brood on other people‘s. It‘s not making mistakes that undermines your reputation but failing to learn from them.
9 Give feedback to your peers
We often think of feedback as something only managers give. But giving good feedback to your peers is one of the behaviours that will make you stand out. Good feedback is feed- back that is given with a kind intent. For instance, if you see someone struggling to complete a task, you might tell them how you would approach it. Feedback can, of course, also be positive. For instance, you can point it out when you think a colleague has done something particularly well. The best feedback is feedback that is perceived not as criticism but as a gesture of goodwill.