Being a leader doesn’t exempt you from being a good employee. Matter of fact, as leaders, we should strive to be the best in all we do, not just being “good” or “better.” “Good” is doing what is expected of you. This typically falls in the slightly above-average range and is relatively easy to achieve with a bit of focus and determination. “Better" is rising a little higher than good and typically means you are comparing yourself to the next one in line.
But best is where you should want to live. It is greatness and doesn’t mean you are better than everyone else but that you’re working to your maximum capability.
Whether the one in charge, or just simply part of the team, our goal should be to create an environment that thrives on excellence and always strives to be the best.
This can be a challenge but I’ve discovered 10 ways to be the best employee there is:
1. Write everything down. Never show up to a meeting without something to write with and something to write on. And write it down. Everything. Otherwise you'll forget. I don't care who you are.
2. Honor people's time. Show up early and finish on time.
3. Come with solutions, not just ideas. This is crucial. Move towards completion, not away from it. Ideas are great, but always have to lead towards the finish line.
4. Learn how to anticipate. Be one step ahead. Do something every day you weren't "asked" or "told" to do, but know you should do.
5. Be a disciplined learner. Understand it is your role to be an expert, no matter what level or role you play in an organization. Don't just be one step ahead of your boss in being skilled at your job .... be an expert.
6. Listen well. Listen when in a conversation; don't just think about what you are going to say in response. Listen for next steps, not current realities- this has to do with anticipating.
7. Reflect most of the credit; take all the blame. This is more for leaders, but still a great principle to put into practice no matter what level you are in the organization. Be a reflector of praise, not an absorber. Absorb the blame if at all possible.
8. Never speak negatively of your peers for personal gain. This is a hard one for everyone, especially when your boss or superior wants to pit you against that peer and see how you respond. Don't give in to that. Stay above it.
9. Push back. Almost every organizational leader I know wants their team members to challenge the process, question assumptions, bring new ideas to the table, and push back when they don't agree. Don't be afraid to do this. If your leader is not mature enough to take this, then they probably shouldn't be in the position they are in. If unsure on whether you truly have "permission" to push back, ask for permission on the front end.
10. Take on more responsibility. Ask for more power and involvement, and you'll be lifting the load of your employer or boss. That is always a welcomed conversation. Always. Help by taking on more.