SEVEN QUALITIES THAT PRODUCE STAR PERFORMERS
By John Graham
David McCullough, Jr., a teacher at Wellesley High School, was equally ruthless in his 2012 graduation remarks. With utter clarity he stated, “You are not special. You are not exceptional.” He went on to say, “You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. If everyone gets a trophy, trophies become meaningless . . . we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement.”
Achievement comes from being ruthless with ourselves.
(5) People who possess a deep understanding of the customer. While this should be obvious by now, it still isn’t. Far too many of us have substantial difficulty recognizing that customers can either help or hurt a business. If you want proof, just visit any nearby store or speak with almost any “customer service representative.”
A customer of a neighborhood supermarket that’s part of a large chain responded to an electronic message asking for comments about the store, indicating that there were personnel issues and problems with the freshness of the produce. When the information got back to the store manager, the produce department changed dramatically and personnel improvements were quickly evident.
What’s interesting is that the store’s management team had long been aware of these particular issues, but nothing happened – until a customer became involved. “Our neighborhood needs a supermarket where we want to shop,” said the customer to the manager. “And we want to help.”
(6) People who avoid using jargon. These may not be the worst words in the world of business, but they’ll do until something else comes along: “I thought I would reach out to you.” What’s wrong with “reach out”? It’s pompous. And the list is endless – bleeding edge, core competency, best practices, leverage, scalable, robust, and impact . . . there are many others, but you get the picture.
The problem with jargon is that the words don’t have concrete meaning. Jargon is a substitute for clear thinking and communicating accurately. When you see or hear it, it should be a red flag, indicating that the person using it is incompetent.
If you insist on being part of the jargon crowd, go ahead and use it. You have permission to embarrass yourself.
(7) People who work without earbuds. Many workplaces have gone silent, compared to the way they were even in the recent past. They’ve become “quiet zones.” There’s almost no talking and the phones gather dust, thanks primarily to email and texting. And it’s not all bad, to be sure, particularly if you work in an open office environment that’s home for most of us during the day.
But that’s not all. There are the pervasive earbuds, which send quite a different message, consciously or unconsciously. They are the new “Do not disturb” or “Leave me alone; I’m in my own little world” signs, replacing the closed office door that sent the same messages.
We feel as if we’re invading the privacy of those wearing earbuds and we feel guilty as they yank them off, as if to say, “Why are you disturbing me?” It seems that more and more of us want to be left alone, to be isolated from everything and everyone else, particularly when working.
Earbuds may be a way of asserting our independence or expressing disdain for what we are required to do on the job.
While much office chatter was totally trivial and wasted time, the opportunity for interaction through “conversation” could be stimulating, an effective way to understand each other better, and a contributor to increased productivity, something that’s suffering today.
Well-honed skills are more essential than ever. Yet, certain personal qualities are also critical for creating star performers in every job and profession.
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About the Author: John R. Graham of GrahamComm is a marketing and sales consultant and business writer. He publishes a monthly eNewsletter, “No Nonsense Marketing & Sales.” He can be contacted at 617-774-9759, by email at email@example.com or at johnrgraham.com.