How to Stand Out at Your Job…For the Right Reasons

Brace yourself…it will require you to do something you probably are not doing today. But at least it’s not overly complex. You simply have to ask the right questions.

One of my favorite books is QBQ! The Question Behind the Question, by John Miller. He reminds us that progress only takes place by asking the right questions that drive personal accountability. Those questions always begin with how or what, include the word “I”, and focus on taking action. The wrong questions, on the other hand, begin with why (powerlessness/lack of ownership), who (blaming) and when (delayed actions).

Now, I’m sure you are wondering what all that has to do with standing out for the right reasons. It is relevant because when you understand the concept of the QBQ and the power of personal accountability, you transition from being a cog in the machine to being a person that adds tangible value to your organization. Let me be clear about something: not everyone has the courage – or the good sense – to understand the QBQ. Sure, the notion sounds simple enough. Yet it rarely happens due to the fear of additional responsibilities. When we ask the QBQ, we may have to add another item to our to-do list, organize a meeting, stay an extra hour or, worst of all, be on the hook for providing the right answers to the questions. So the QBQ doesn’t get asked and we carry on in the status quo. This will be fine for a lot of people – this post isn’t for them. This post is for the person who is ready to take his or her career to the next level.

Imagine a room filled with the senior leaders of your organization. They are trying to determine who is ready for the next promotion. Your name comes up. At first there is silence and then someone asks, “What does he/she do?” I participate in succession planning and performance review discussions on a regular basis. The last thing you want is to be the person who doesn’t stand out for doing anything. But if you are going to stand out, it needs to be for the right reasons. You can make this happen by asking, and then answering, 2 simple questions:

What does the company need in order to remain competitive and successful?

How can I deliver above-target results?

Once you have the answers to those questions, take action by following this process:

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