- Bob Sutton
Recently, I was listening to a sermon where the pastor was speaking about working toward excellence. This pastor preached that we, as Christians, should be known not only for our Love, but also for how we are the hardest working people in our workplace, striving for excellence in all we do. It was new to me, that it might be scriptural that we are hard workers. As it turns out, the Apostle Paul agrees with that pastor (or vice versa - see Colossians 3:23). I sat down with William Vanderbloemen to hear firsthand what excellence looks like in our workplace. Here are some nuggets of wisdom that will help you stand out and be exceptional where you are. 1. Under-promise and over-deliver, but not by much. This is a standard practice with any sales job but can be useful in any role. The key to under-promising and over-delivering is to keep close to the target, both in expectation and delivery. If you make unrealistically low promises and then blow them out of the water every time, your boss will probably not trust your ability to forecast. If executed correctly, you will continue to impress and be noted as a top performer. 2. Proactively do something beneath your position. It is totally normal and should be expected that you will work hard at something you are supposed to do, but what if, during your lunch break, you cleaned the dishes in the sink? Choosing to do a task that is beneath your position not only shows humility but also demonstrates that you care for those who work with you and for you. Jesus, our King, washed his disciples feet, the work of a servant. How can you serve those who work under your leadership, not by leading, but by serving them? 3. Be obsessed with solutions not problems. It is really easy to be a naysayer, squash other people’s ideas, focus on difficulty, and point out flaws. It takes courage to put ideas forward and navigate difficulty. That is where the average and the great are determined. The old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” is completely true in the workplace. Don’t be that "Debbie Downer," be the "Freddie Fixer," or "Can Do Casey." 4. Speak up half as much as you’d like to. They still tell kids in school that we have one mouth and two ears so that we’ll listen twice as much as we talk. That advice still applies. You might have some great ideas, and you want your opinion to be heard. However, before you voice your opinion, think through the value it will bring. Many meetings would be half as long and twice as productive if we were more selective with the things we share. And of course we are instructed in the Book of James to be slow to speak and quick to listen, so yeah, I’d say that’s pretty important. 5. Give away wins, own losses. Whenever there is success, people want credit. If you want to be exceptional, give away the credit for the success. In failure, when most start pointing fingers, that is the time to own up. NFL quarterbacks are well known for this after winning or losing games. The credit for the win gets passed along to the team. “It was a great team effort,” they say. And if it was a loss, “I just wasn’t connecting.” This world has no shortage of people who want credit for things they didn’t do. Why don’t you turn that on its head and be exceptional. 6. Ability to pivot and demonstrate agility. Here at the Vanderbloemen Search Group, we are so convinced of the need for agility that we’ve made it one of our core values. Some times priorities can change quickly, whether in response to a new project or unforeseen problem. Those who can adapt quickly to that change and respond gracefully will make all the difference in the success of your work. 7. Be self aware, but not self absorbed. If we're honest, most of us are pretty self absorbed. Those rare few who actually look around and take steps to care for others always stand out in a workplace. It sounds so rudimentary, but there is a profound effect in a workplace when a person demonstrates genuine care for others before themselves. 8. Be a people developer. Some of us think that harboring our job responsibilities make us more important or needed in the workplace. However, I would encourage you to have a spirit of teaching and development as you train your team members. Excellent employees are always thinking about their own succession plan, regardless of their position. Develop those around you to continually improve their skill set and enhance the quality of your team. These are just a few things that make employees exceptional and excellent in their work. This article was originally published on Vanderbloemen Search Group's blog. Used with permission.