20 Points For Success – Part One of Four

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing my “20 Points for Success.”   I’ve been using this list as both a professional guide for me and a resource to share with others as they progress through the various stages the workplace offers – from the junior person to the senior leader. Some are original and many are “borrowed” from people far smarter than I am. You can adopt these for yourself, add or subtract to create a list more relevant to your own situation, or craft your very own original list of 5, 10, 20 or more keys to success that are important to you and your success. Consider these a starting point.

Here are the first five:

1. Always Act with Integrity and Honesty

This one is non-negotiable. You either have integrity or you don’t.  You either behave honestly or you don’t. As professionals who represent, not only ourselves, but also our organization – we can settle for nothing less than 100% integrity and honesty in all we do and at all times. What we allow will become our standard.  There is simply never a good reason for behaving any other way – only an excuse.

2. Respond

Responsiveness is one trait that will separate you from the pack. When we are totally responsive to our clients or customer’s needs, and the needs of those around us – we become value-added and an indispensable partner. To be responsive means being available, being prepared to carry out a mission on short or no notice, and doing so in a positive and professional manner. Others may not always notice when we’re responsive, but they absolutely notice when we are not.  Responsiveness also applies to our co-workers in need.  Help one another whenever you can, the next one to need help may very well be you.

3. Anticipate

We have to think like our clients, supervisors, and teammates think, and before they do, when possible. When we can anticipate their next question or next requirement or anticipate the next turn in the road that they may not have considered, we add value.  Think over the horizon.  What may happen next, and what does anticipating that possibility do to enhance preparation and develop appropriate responses? Anticipation is also taking ACTION.  When we sense the likelihood that our boss may need to prepare for a briefing, presentation, or meeting with the press – prepare a draft for her – don’t give her a blank page – give her something to ponder, change, or even discard.  She will appreciate your thinking ahead and saving her some work.  It’s far easier to edit than to create, so we are providing a great service when we take the lead and get out in front of requirements.

4. Follow-up

You may have all heard of the phrase “an action passed is an action completed.” Well, that is not the way it works.  When you start an action – it’s YOURS until it is completed. An action that you touch should nag at you until you know it’s completed.  Don’t assume someone else took it over for you – check on it, help move it along, and stay on top of it – you are accountable for it – only you.  Another aspect of the Follow-Up tenet is to close the loop with the people around you.  When you are asked a question, answer it.  When someone is clearly expecting to hear from you – be sure they do.  Remember how frustrating it is when you have asked your supervisor, client, or colleague a question, sought guidance or wanted clarification before moving forward and the lack of response (and evidently interest) was deafening?!  Don’t be guilty of the same lack of follow-up with those in your world who look to you for guidance and direction.

5. Identify Problems and Solutions

As professionals, we are expected to develop and offer solutions to problems we encounter and identify. When you see a problem and pass it along to your supervisor without offering a course of action or two to address it, your value is limited.  Think about the root causes of the problem, what can be enacted now, and in the future to overcome, mitigate, or avoid the problem and suggest viable solutions.  When you play a role in shortening the time between problem identification and solution – you become known as a problem solver; and you become more valuable to the organization.  By the way, the more solutions you generate, the more problems will find you – being the go-to person on the team is often a mixed blessing.

In my next article, I will elaborate on 5 more Points for Success, so stay tuned.

Dave served a full 22-year career as an Army officer and followed that with more than 2 decades as a senior executive in several consulting firms in the Northern Virginia area. He has managed and led thousands of soldiers, Army civilians, and private sector employees in more than 43 years in leadership positions. He speaks and writes about leadership, relationship management, career transition, and keys to success.  READ MORE

David S. Maurer

Lieutenant Colonel, USA (Ret.) , Project Management Professional (PMP)



Books By Dave

Watering Rocks - How to Fail and Succeed as a Leader - Book by David S. Maurer
Leadership Essentials - How to Lead with Passion, Pride and Purpose - Book by David S. Maurer