Is there a more common conversational theme than dissing the boss who thinks a co-worker is a star when you know you’re a better worker, not to mention smarter and more skilled, than your rival? What does a career star look like? What does that outstanding employee think and do? We’ve researched this every few years since 1975 and we can report that the answers never change. Here’s what shows up consistently regardless of methodology.
1. A star can read the boss’s mind. Call it simpatico or unusual intuition. Some bosses and workers are such a good fit that they work together seamlessly. It means both can focus on getting the result instead of trying to understand what the other is thinking. It’s almost impossible to be a star without a boss you understand. Remember how you were supposed to get references on a prospective boss? This is one of the reasons.
2. A star thinks he/she is part owner of the business. In other words he/she doesn’t think like an employee who’s just passing through. If you want to identify the person most likely to move up in an organization it’s the only whose every decision reflects his/her complete identification with what’s important to the business.
3. A star is emotionally invested in besting the competition. I talk with many people each year who don’t know who the company’s most important competitor is! It has never occurred to them to ask because they are solely invested in doing the job and getting the paycheck. That’s not a felony unless you want a bigger paycheck and can’t understand why you always get single-digit raises.
4. A star identifies opportunities before they exist. It’s part of the payoff of being emotionally involved. For example, a star researches who else might busy the product or service, how better to market to a particular group, and treats his/her job as gathering useful intelligence at all times. Then he/she persuades the boss that it was the boss’s idea.
What we know is that emotionally detached employees are dangerous to themselves and the organization, not to mention they are never stars. If this seems like too much work you now know something you didn’t: the job you have is not the job you should have. Ask any star: Being a star is as natural as breathing if you’re engaged.
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