Monday, 13 October 2008

4 Key Attributes of Highly Effective Professionals

Have you wonder what are the key attributes of highly successful professionals? And can our career success be guarantee? What can we do to assurance that we remain highly in demand in this fast moving society?

Research has found these four keys held by highly effective professionals:

1. Positive Attitude and Mindset
2. Extraordinary Work Ethic & Personal Traits
3. Excellent Skills Set
4. 360-degree on-the-job knowledge

The good thing about these 4 keys elements are that you can control your level of achievement for each one! Just to begin with, you need to do a self analysis of yourself with regard to these categories.

Positive Attitude

Your attitude can make or break you. In a recent talk delivered for Civil Service College titled “Your Role in Organizational Effectiveness”, I spoke of an example in a person by the name of William Hung, from the American Idol series.

William had tremendous attitude and left a phrase during his audition that made him famous instantaneously. He said, ”I already gave my best and I have no regrets at all”. Although William was deemed by the judges that he cannot sing or dance and hence, rejected from being in the contest, he made an impact. Moving on, he crafted a singing career by selling thousands of his album within the first few months of its release. He has since traveled in many countries and realized his dream of “making singing his career”. He may be deemed lacking in skills but his attitude sure carried him through. The last I know, he is working on his singing and learning dance moves.

In this new age of intensified competition and constant changes in the workplace, many of us are highly charged emotionally and constantly stretched. However, many of these so-called “stresses” could well be simply overcome by tweaking our attitude and mindset towards it. The demands on us at work put us in many different situations and causes pressure that are beyond our control. How can we stay “up” when there are so many things that can bring us “down”? What can we do to help ourselves?

First, recognize that a negative attitude is often the result of frustration. Having a positive attitude is not easy, especially when challenges mount one after another. But this is when a positive mind-set becomes invaluable. We can consciously develop ways of thinking that puts us in control. Take time off everyday to review and reflect on the day’s doing; what we have done today and what we could have done in a different and more productive and effective way. Think through and map out your strategies so you are better ready to overcome it the next time these challenges come along. Such is the power of reflection. It does not matter if we fell, what is important is that we do not fall into the same hole twice.

It is okay to feel down; everyone does at one time or another. It is how you pick yourself up that can make all the difference in the world. Ask yourself:

What Can I Do That Will Be to My Best Advantage?


Extraordinary Work Ethic


All successful professionals realize that this is a major key to success, but what exactly does extraordinary mean? The key is:

Do Whatever It Takes to Get the Results You Want and/or Need without compromising on your integrity and hurting others.

Extraordinary, doesn’t mean that you have to exhaust yourself every day in order to physically show how busy you are. That is not extraordinary, that’s kidding yourself and compromising on other important aspects of your life.

Doing whatever it takes means a number of different things. It can mean:

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Starting earlier in the day
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Devoting time to plan and execute your task
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Scheduling time for important and urgent things as well those that are not urgent but important
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Following through on all projects
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Thinking of new ways to become more effective and efficient in the things you do
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Continuing to give your best efforts throughout the day, especially when you have had success early in the day.
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Remembering and following the classic motto “I will do one more task”

Successful people are not perfect. No one is. If you have a bad day, recognize it as such and deal with it as best you can. Just do you best.


The major difference between average and excellent performers is that excellent performers are willing and determined to do whatever it takes to get the job done…….. and done right.


There is no “9 to 5” clock for extraordinary work ethic. There is also no room for “this is not my job” thinking. I was impressed to hear during a recent radio interview that Prime Minister Lee, when understudying MPs and Ministers in his earlier days of his political career, do more and harder than anyone else. It is no wonder he become the great leader that he is today.

Your work ethic is translated into what you do with your time; how much of it is devoted to achieving customer, personal and organization goals; and your ultimate results. They’re all linked together. Just when you think you have done enough for the day, do one more.


Excellent Skills Set

A young man decided to take on a job to chop trees and he is determined to earn lots of money. He started the first day like anyone else but worked diligently until the end of the day. Receiving his earnings for the day for having chopped down 10 trees, he quietly decided that he wants to earn more money and will start the day earlier tomorrow. He started the next day 2 hours earlier, when the others were still sleeping and work his way through the day. To his surprise, he made only a small progress by being paid for 13 trees at the end of the day. More determined, he woke even earlier the following day and went on chopping hard for the day only to be paid for 12 trees. This went on for the next two days with him skipping lunches and breaks and finishing later than anybody else. Strangely, his numbers kept dropping or stayed stagnant. Frustrated, he consulted the boss of the project whom asked him, “Have you sharpen your blade?”

Make learning a way of life. Plan your learning and carry them out. If you deem something as being important, you will find the time to accomplish it. Most times when we go into a slump, the problem starts with getting away from the basics. Check and re-check your foundational skills, go back to the basics and review how you are performing from time to time. Do not wait till the end of the year and be shocked by your appraisals. Take inventory of your skills set and identify what else you need to learn to take you to the next level of performance.

Once you determined your proficiencies in each area you can list the skills that need improvement. Discuss them with your manager and your colleagues. Get their recommendations on how to achieve excellence.

When you go to a doctor, there is usually a sense of comfort in knowing this person is qualified to respond to your specific needs. The doctor has graduated from medical school, earned a degree of technical expertise and has on-the-job experience. In addition, every successful doctor keeps abreast of all new medical advances that will help keep patients alive and healthy. Would you go to a doctor who is not aware of the latest methods and advances in medicine? Or one who did not take the time to properly identify your specific needs? Would you want to return to that doctor, or recommend that doctor to your friends? Your organization, colleagues and superiors expect your skills to be as sharp and professional as they can be. Don’t get rusty!

Utilize resources that will enable you to stay informed or learn new skills. Use books, audios, video, on-line services and distance-learning opportunities. There is a whole menu of learning tools available for use anywhere. You choose! Target at least one resource to keep you up-to-date and refresh on all aspects of your profession.

Continually successful professionals (the key here is “continually”) never think they know it all. They know that excellent foundational skills are critical to their success. They are also eager to learn-from customers, associates, colleagues or self-directed initiatives and find ways to stay sharp.

360ยบ On the Job Knowledge

Knowledge is power! You need and should want to know everything and anything about your position and your job. This includes knowing why your job was created, what it does and how it contribute to the overall ecology of your department and organization. When you know these foundational information, you can then analyze and work on crafting out an edge for yourself – what you can do to add value to the job and tasks that you currently do.

Surface knowledge just won’t cut it. Total knowledge gives you the solid foundation to not just perform, but performing at peak or at the very least, performing at a level that is way above what you are doing now.

Tap onto the power of motivation to transform your work. Afterall, wasn’t that first day at work exciting and inspiring? What happen to those compelling feelings? Rediscover those feelings, they are fuel to propel your performance.

When you are part of an organization, you become ambassador to your organization. If you don’t have all the facts and understand how your job contributes to the bigger picture, how will others know?

In Summary

Yes, very few things in life are guaranteed. In this age of globalization, constant changes and intense competitions, not just on a business-to-business front but also, as an individual, we are faced with challenges. Since you have to dance with life and work, you might as well dance well and learn a few new moves along the way.

1 comment:

QuaChee said...

wonderful write up! useful tips! :)