Career thoughts

Saturday, July 16, 2005

From are you a star at work

A good insightful article at

What do people think differentiates stars from avg: 45 beliefs. Some are :
  • raw intelligence,
  • social skills : they are born leaders,
  • personality: they are driven , will to succeed, self-confident.
  • Also environmental factors: right job and the right boss

The tests: none of this differentiate ? Then what matters ?

"Back of the T-shirt theory" : Its not what people bring to the part that makes them a star, its what they do with what they bring.


The work which doesn't get done unless someone tackles it on his own. Doing stuff outside one's job description is the secret. But what is initiative ? It has four elements:

1. Outside job description

2. Helping other people

3. Element of risk-taking

4. seeing the activity through completion

Other points:

Make sure you are doing the assigned job well.

Initiatives that matter are those which relate to the company's critical path. What promotes the company's core mission ? Initiative should be tied to that.


Use networks to multiply producitivity.
Start by recognizing: what you need to know, but don't know. Then figure out who can give that knowledge.
Stars are on lookout for people all the time.

Economics of networking: its a barter system. You have to have expertise that people need but don't have.

Be prepared to help a lot of people out before you ask anyone for help in return.

Correct self-management

Its not just about time management. Expected to manage projects well, your relationships, career and your career asset over time.

Star performer looks around 6 months before project is finished: What experiences do I have in my portfolio ? What assignments should I tackle next, which will make me more valuable in the market place or for the company ?

They select their next project , before they finish their current one !

Core Skills

Understand the company. What is its critical path ? Contribute more directly to its larger purpose.

Recognize how you work and turn that into an advantage. What times suit you ? What schedule ? Environment ? Food ? System of time and project management ? Quotes which guide you ? Principles which guide you ?

Pattern recognition

different perpectives : how do my competitors think about it ? my boss ? my customers? my colleagues ?

After each project, ask yourself, what did I learn ? Seek out assignments which will give you different kind of experience.

Example: Software testing.

Star follower ?

Very good at helping other people succeed. Know how to pitch in.
Don't just think about your own needs and ambitions. Focus on the project's needs and the leader's needs. Try to make wins happen for the team, not just a record for yourself.

You should figure out what to do , before you're told. Be a good fact-finder , find out as much as you can without bothering the leader.

Leadership with a small "l"

Have three components:

1. They are knowledgeable.

2. Bring energy to job and create energy in other people.

3. Pay attention to everyone in the team : attract followers

Show your intent towards your team.


How your company really works?

They are "organizational savvy" or street smarts. Understanding the law of the land. Who to avoid and whom to trust.

Keep your eyes open. Get the boss's views. Talk to star performers and get their sense of how things work. There will be different persepectives, not one. Take them into account in your work with others.

Understand what works and what doesn't work in your environment.

Show and Tell


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