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Four habits that can take employees far

Jul 29, 2012 Success, Sunday Nation

Too many employees feel disillusioned and disenchanted. Too many feel stuck in dead-end jobs with no prospect of growth or advancement. Too many are stagnating on the chair they sit on, petrifying their careers instead of electrifying them.

Global surveys bear out this observation. As many as two out of every five employees feel little sense of purpose in their work, and are mostly disengaged from the brand and mission of their employers.

This is fundamentally a failure of leadership and management, and this column has lamented these shortfalls on many a Sunday. However, let’s take a different perspective this time. What’s wrong with the employees themselves? Why do so many allow themselves to become sullen and unresponsive, thereby killing their own advancement?

There is also another breed of worker, remember: the folks who are always full of energy and enthusiasm, always ready to do a bit more than duty calls for, ever willing to go the extra mile. Why is it that such people exist, even in the very same, dreary, poorly led organizations that seem to sap the life-force out of most other workers? What makes these people different?

If you’re an employee with ambitions, allow me to let you in on something this Sunday. I interact with many leaders and employers in different ways, and I know that there are certain attributes that mark out their ‘star’ workers. Those staffers who demonstrate these traits are usually the ones who are most valued; who are given greater responsibility; who are selected for promotion.

There are four characteristics that stand out. Let’s consider them in turn.

The first such attribute is taking responsibility. The person who takes charge of situations and handles them; who takes over the burden of accountability; who gets things done without needing to always seek validation – which boss would not value such an employee?

The second attribute is anticipation. The employee who can see problems before they occur, and can defuse them before they grow, is like gold dust. The person who takes the burden of anticipation off the boss, and who prevents a crisis, is always valued.

Thirdly, leaders go for people they can trust. People of integrity and an inbuilt sense of ethics are increasingly rare, and increasingly sought after. Even leaders who are not trustworthy themselves are always looking for juniors that they can trust! No employer wants to give responsibility to a rogue who might defraud her, after all.

Lastly, leaders rate those employees who exhibit high levels of positive personal energy. Enthusiasm is infectious – but so is apathy. It is very hard to keep energy levels high in most organizations, and those employees who have great reservoirs of zest are always very useful.

So there you have it: employees who take their jobs seriously; who solve problems rather than observe them; who can be left in charge of serious stuff; and who buzz around every day regardless of circumstances – those are the people who get rated highly by employers.

So if you’re a person of substance who wants to go places, don’t just sit back pessimistically. Make these traits your own, and things will happen for you – no matter how bad your current employer is. You are what you repeatedly do. Good habits become lifelong traits. Even if you outgrow your current boss and place of work, the habits will help you thrive wherever you go.

Someday, the four habits will be applied in the correct arena – an enlightened organization that rewards you for them, or even your own business where you deploy them for personal gain. But the time to start working on them is right now – and they won’t let you down.

So don’t join the crowd of fatalists. Rise above your current circumstances, and soon your circumstances will catch up.

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