Years ago I read a great book called “How to be a Star at Work” by Robert E. Kelley. This book became and continues to be one of the “100 Best Business Books of All Time” and the “#1 Career Book” ranked by The New York Daily News. The author makes the argument that “stars are made, not born”. This is terrific news for anyone who is looking for ways to become a star at work.
Based on Kelley’s book, there are 9 breakthrough strategies you need to succeed. Here are his strategies and some of his ideas as well as my thoughts on how to awaken the star within you:
1. Take initiative. Look for opportunities to set yourself apart from others. Many employees don’t take initiative. It’s too much work, they are too busy doing their job or they have become complacent. High performers go the extra mile consistently. Initiative is what many employers and recruiters look for in new hires, yet it is so rare to find in the workplace. Take initiative by taking on additional responsibility above and beyond your current job description. Look for ways to help coworkers or the department with specific goals or projects. Don’t be afraid to take some risks by taking initiative.
2. Become a good networker. It is said that we are only 4-5 people away from anything we ever want to be, do or have. A good network can help you fill in the gaps. You don’t know everything. But if you have a good network of people to draw on, you can usually find someone in your network to help you, or at least someone who knows a person that can help you.
3. Excel at self-management. Self-management isn’t about being super organized. It’s about evaluating which activities are important vs unimportant and then balancing those against the urgent vs not urgent. It’s about taking control over your own career path by developing a plan and connecting yourself to the work you most enjoy and that benefits the company. Stars figure out how to leverage their talents and add value to their organizations. Increasing personal effectiveness and efficiency is important.
4. Build perspective. I have a metaphor I love using with my clients around gaining more perspective. I have them think about a hockey game in an arena. As the hockey player you are focused on moving the puck, passing the puck, scoring, etc. The action is quick and very narrowly focused. The game moves quickly. Removing yourself from the player position to the coach position on the sidelines, you are able to gain a broader perspective of what is going on in the game. The game slows down, the view is broader and you are able to think more strategically about what should be done. Now moving to an observer position high in the stands, the game slows down even further. You are able to gain even more perspective as you can see not only the game and the coaching but also the statistics and anything else going on in the periphery. Much greater perspective and a much bigger viewpoint. As you awaken your star power, gain perspective on not just what you do, but what is going on around you and how that impacts your job, department and the company as a whole.
5. Build followership. Followership focuses on relationships you have with leaders and people who have power and authority over you. To be a good follower, you need to know how to lead yourself. Good followers have focus, commitment and build competence and credibility as a way of influencing others in the workplace. They maintain an honest conscience and a great deal of integrity. Their own ego is managed and controlled in order to work cooperatively with leaders.
6. Be a leader. Not just with people you formally lead already. Be a leader amongst your peers and colleagues as well as others. As a leader amongst your peers, you should look to be respected for your knowledge, expertise and proven judgment. You especially want their respect in the area of people-skills. Demonstrate that you care about people and your colleagues.
7. Be a team player. As a strong team player you can contribute by making sure the team knows and understands its purpose, gets the team’s job done and by paying attention and contributing to the group dynamics in a constructive and positive way.
8. Increase your organizational savvy. According to Kelley organizational savvy is defined as: “the ability to manage competing workplace interests to promote an idea, resolve conflicts, and most important to achieve a goal.” The organization can be a political minefield so it’s important to be savvy. Find an organizational mentor who can help you maneuver through the organization. Build and nurture solid relationships and increase your personal credibility.
9. Become effective at persuasion. Impact and influence skills are key to getting to desired outcomes. It’s important to understand your audience and tailor your communication to them. Remember resistance is a sign that you haven’t built enough rapport.