5 Keys To Success In The Workplace

Tom Cruise is Hollywood’s biggest star since Clark Gable. “I love my work,” says the actor and producer, whose latest film is Robert Redford’s political drama Lions For Lambs. “It’s all part of life – work, kids, everything. Sometimes I’m stretched a little thin, but I wouldn’t trade it. I am the only limitation I have. I always knew that ultimately I am responsible for myself.”

A positive attitude about work is one of the key ingredients to success. Whoever you are, whatever you do, enthusiasm can help you get wherever you want to be. So whether you’re a corporate warrior, entrepreneur or anything in between, here are the 5 tools you need to achieve advancement, based on new bestselling Winning by the iconic former GE CEO Jack Welch.

Positive energy. Successful people frame their careers in a positive light, and everything else follows. It’s all a matter of psyching yourself up with affirmative thoughts and actions.

“This characteristic means the ability to thrive in action and relish change,” says Welch. “People with positive energy are generally extroverted and optimistic. They make friends and conversations easily. They start the day with enthusiasm and usually end it that way too.”

An environment that is conducive to growth is essential. One such company is Google, founded by Silicon Valley living legends Larry Page and Sergey Brin. “At Google, things are really kind of friendly and fun,” says Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products. “There is no question that a lot of the meetings have a good amount of laughter and whimsy.”

Ability to energize others. Those in a position to influence people have a responsibility to use that influence positively. It is not easy to say if Steve Carell’s Michael Scott in NBC’s The Office fits in that category, but you know what I mean.

“People who energize can inspire their team to take on the impossible – and enjoy the hell out of doing it,” says Welch. But like in the movie Transformers, there’s more than meets the eye. “Now, energizing others is not just about giving rah-rah speeches. It takes a deep knowledge of your business and strong persuasion skills to make a case that will galvanize others.”

Steve Jobs has mastered the technique of making people follow his vision. As head of Apple and Pixar, he gave the world such breakthroughs like the iMac, the iPod, The Incredibles, and now, the iPhone. He has “revolutionized several industries” because “He’s a marketing and creative genius with a rare ability to get inside the imagination of consumers,” says Terry Semel, chairman and CEO of Yahoo! Inc.

Courage to make tough decisions. Some people are terrified of making a move unless they have clairvoyance. Others make quick, instantaneous decisions – or what Malcolm Gladwell calls “Blink” – regardless of the consequences. Oftentimes, it’s best to be in the middle but with the flexibility to swing either way when it’s needed.

“Effective people know when to stop assessing and make a tough call, even without to total information,” says Welch.

Anita Roddick’s political beliefs were starting to affect the company she founded so made a radical choice: she sold the Body Shop to L’Oreal and established the Roddick Foundation. “The idea of dying with loads of money doesn’t appeal to me at all,” says the human-rights activist. “I want to use the last years I have to get my hand dirty working for civil change.”

Ability to get the job done. A landmark EQ experiment showed that little boys who continue building blocks become more successful when they grew up than those brats whose first reaction is petulance.

“Being able is to execute is a special and distinct skill,” says Welch. “It means a person knows how to put decisions into action and push them forward into completion, through resistance, chaos or unexpected obstacles. People who can execute know that winning is about results.”

When Hiroshi Okuda became head of Toyota in 1995, he stunned the world by announcing that they would capture 15% of the global car market – and he achieved this audacious feat 4 years ahead of schedule. Toyota has done it by “investing in bulletproof quality, advanced technology and high-mileage engines,” wrote Keith Naughton and Allan Sloan in Newsweek. “It developed a superefficient manufacturing method, known as the Toyota Production System, that relentlessly roots out waste and builds in quality.”

Passion. As Iza Calzado purred in a brandy commercial, “Without passion, life has no meaning,” or words to that effect.

“By passion, I mean a heartfelt, deep and authentic excitement about work,” says Welch. “People with passion care – really care in their bones – about colleagues, employees and friends winning.”

Microsoft is the prime example of geek passion in the best sense. Even more important, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is “the most important organization in the world,” says former United States President and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Jimmy Carter. “We’ve been intimately acquainted with their method of operation, the thorough investigation they do before they made a decision, their willingness to take a chance, their willingness to stick to some thing once it’s begun, and the extremely high competence of their top people. They know what they are doing.”

Tom Cruise photo courtesy of Ray-Ban Sunglasses. A condensed version of this story first appeared in CareerGuide, The Philippine Star, October 26, 2008

Your comments and links are welcome


VINCE said…
Your readers might want to see the Lion For Lambs trailer. Wala lang.trailer
Mattias Kroon said…
Yes, to inspire others must be the most crucial challenge for us all to do.It´s not always easy, but it comes from within.
JonathanAquino said…
I agree whole-heartedly, Mattias; I do believe that people who bring out the best in us makes this world a better place.