5 Ways to Stand out at Work

The people I’ve admired most at work, and there have only been a handful, stood head and shoulders above the crowd. They were different, and I took notice. So did everyone else, and they experienced professional success. More importantly, they built a reputation that went before them.

These are the kinds of people everyone wants as a mentor. They have a “secret sauce”, so to speak.

Why do they stand out? What are they doing that everyone else isn’t? When thinking of this handful of people that influenced my operating principles, I’ve identified five relatively rare behaviors.

Sure, I’ll lend you that book…When I get around to it.

I once had a manager who stood out for being someone who took action–especially following through on things that came up in conversation. She stood out because I realized few people are truly proactive. Here’s an example: I would have a conversation with her and she’d mention some great book she’d read that was related to our topic of conversation. The next morning, that very book would be sitting on my desk with a personal note written on a post-it inviting me to read and enjoy.  Proactive people don’t procrastinate. They see opportunities, and act.

Bottom line: Be proactive. Follow through. Look for chances to be thoughtful.

Can someone help me edit this proposal? Anyone? Anyone?

Think about a time you’ve sent an email asking for review or feedback. And…Silence.

Responsive people make time for other people. Instead of operating in reactive mode, they carve out time to add value to their own day, as well as those around them. Set aside time each day to be responsive to people who ask for assistance. If you genuinely can’t provide what’s being asked for, be responsive in saying so. Don’t disregard their email. Consider offering some alternate form of assistance that you can reasonably provide.

Bottom line: Make time to be helpful and responsive.

If you don’t like me, you can go to hell.

Some of the most impressive people I’ve worked with who really stood out know who they are, and adapt their style to others. Yet, they don’t expect everyone to adapt to them, and they realize the impact they have on others when they open their mouth.

These people take time to discover the needs and priorities of their co-workers, which enables them to work more effectively with them. They appreciate the differences in others. They don’t say things like, “I don’t have to like you, I just have to work with you.” Yuck. What a low bar to set for yourself.

Some people value results and action, others prioritize enthusiasm, stability, accuracy, collaboration, or support. These self-aware and adaptive people take the time to discover what their co-workers and customers value, and adapt to meet those needs.

Bottom line: Know yourself, your impact, and also adapt to others’ needs.

I’m only like this because that’s what my boss expects.

Those who’ve left a lasting impression on me in my 20+ year career have been people who accept feedback gracefully, and truly have a desire to take a critical look at themselves based on the feedback of others. Not only were they open to feedback, but they thanked me for it, and their behavior would change in response to it.

These people had a non-defensive reaction to constructive feedback and didn’t make excuses for themselves. They understand they aren’t perfect, and have an attitude of continuous personal improvement that reflects tremendous maturity.

Bottom line: Listen, and be open to feedback.

If I told you, I’d have to kill you.

An attitude of scarcity is just plain insecure. Those who operate with a mentality of abundance, however, reap abundance in return. When my mother started her executive coaching firm, she would often teach other aspiring consultants how to go into business for themselves, sharing her tools, resources, and ideas. I remember asking her why she was training people to compete with her. I’ll never forget her response: “Kristin, my reputation speaks for itself. I have an attitude of abundance, and I don’t ever need to feel threatened.”

Wow. That attitude has pervaded my thinking thanks to her powerful example. As the saying goes, “Clenched fists can’t receive a blessing.” 

Bottom line: Share what you know, and invest in others.

What behaviors, attitudes, or traits did that person who left a strong impression on you possess?

All the best to you!

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