Stellar work is your personal wealth: your worldly goods, trust fund, gold stash, life preserver, money in your pocket, and 401(k). It is the investment in yourself that no one can take away and no depressed economy or down market can diminish.
“In the football world, it’s called making plays. Everyone in the game is fast, big, and strong, but only a certain percentage can make the big plays week in and week out,” says Steven Israel, retired NFL player for the Carolina Panthers and now the CEO of EndZone Coverage.
So what does “stellar work” mean to the CEOs I asked? You:
Make your numbers and deliver results on time, within budget.
Know the most important areas to focus on, and you make them better.
Find a need and fill it as well as you can.
Make your boss’s life more comfortable and easier.
Make your boss look good. You never surprise her, and you always keep her in the loop.
Are willing and flexible to take on more when asked, and better yet, you discover openings before being asked.
Have your work complement others’ work. You do what you can to help groups outside of your immediate job area.
Do damn fine work, and you are a damn fine person.
Do things that seem impossible to do.
Deliver faster, cheaper, with higher quality.
Are the fulcrum mover.
Extract the most from an opportunity.
Act as eyes and ears so as to improve the company’s achievements outside of your immediate job area.
Utilize a broad and diverse set of skills—that is, you are multi-disciplined.
Can track your successful history of making good decisions with value-added contributions.
Deal with complex tasks without needing your hand held.
Make it fun with the right amount of friskiness and playfulness in getting along and making things happen.
Always look at how other people are doing the same type of work you’re doing. You always try to find people who are better at it and studying what they are doing.
Figure out how to fix what is thrown at you.
Think like an owner. You promote the organization’s mission, not just your own.
So when your boss gives you assignments, recognize that you will be viewed as “pretty good” if you do what’s expected. But that’s not good enough.
Good work is done with sincere intent, not political intent. You don’t do it to impress but to demonstrate what you can do.
You’ll find a couple of things are likely to happen when you exert yourself in that manner. First, you’ll likely stimulate the intellectual thought and activity of other people around you, and second, the boss will probably give you bigger and more important projects.
Debra Benton/Kylie Wright-Ford, co-authors of The Leadership Mind Switch (McGraw-Hill, 2017)