We all want to be “that person” at work. The one that everyone talks (positively) about. The one that fingers point to when something big, meaty, and important needs to get done. The name that everyone whispers. The favorite one.
And it’s not just about the money or the prestige. Deep down, we want to be rockstars because we want to feel like what we do matters, that our efforts have a material impact on the business at hand…and that more people than us know about it! Rockstars of the office are those people that ask the same question everyday, “how can I help my business succeed?” and produce the work that answers the question.
But what makes a rockstar? Is it closing the million-dollar deals? Is it saving the company money by streamlining processes? Or is it something else? I think that all business rockstars share some common traits and I’ve tried to capture a few below. Of course, not all rockstars are the same but I believe that they all share, to some degree, a common approach to life.
Read, read, read. If you want to be better at your job, you need to read. You need to become the expert. The “go to” person for information about not only how your products work but how the industry ticks. When you master that level of knowledge (and, hey, it may take years), you get included in conversations for which you were never before considered. Form theories, dream up ideas, become a voice in the industry—all of these are possible once you have a backbone of knowledge from which you can draw.
Be humble. No one likes the bragger, the self-aggrandizing jerk who always says, “hey, I helped on that project” or “listen to me, I’m smarter than you are!” You have to understand that your deeds speak volumes more than your words (didn’t we learn that in Kindergarten). By being humble, you let your work speak for you and get the recognition you deserve—for what you do, not what you say. Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t raise your hand when people ask who contributed or what you lent to the project; it just means you shouldn’t be out in the hallway thumping your chest every time the boss walks by.
Learn to say “no.” This may seem counter-intuitive. A rockstar should be working on everything important in the company, right? No way. You can’t do everything at the quality you need to in order for your work (and you) to be considered rockstar. And anyway, a rockstar isn’t always available. Heck, you have to get in line if you want to book them for your next event! And that’s exactly how you need to see yourself. In demand. Always keep a part of your schedule open to entertain new projects (like an actor considering the next script) but keep yourself busy enough (producing top notch results) that no one thinks you aren’t fully booked. It’s a fine line to walk but the rockstars all manage to do it.
Put the team before self. This is a pretty obvious one. The “office rockstar,” unlike the one on stage, isn’t all about him or herself. They are about the team. They are always on the lookout for ways to make everyone around them look better. That means elevating team member work, congratulating others, and promoting everyone else’s contributions over theirs. Remember, the rockstar’s job is to make others look good which, in turn, makes them look good. When the band gets popular, rockstars get popular too!
Collect the data. Nothing tells a story about achievement and accomplishment like data. When you work on a project, what are the results? To what end did you help accomplish the project’s objectives? With positive data under your arm, you turn from ordinary office worker into legendary hero because you can tangibly show that the work you are doing has a measurable, positive impact on the business (unless it totally failed and then bury that data deep; just kidding). Keep a file of all the data somewhere. It will become great resume fodder later if the job doesn’t work out the way you want it to.
Do good work. Yeah, it’s grammatically incorrect but just imagine Sylvester Stallone saying it and it all works fine. Ultimately, a rockstar is a rockstar because of the quality of work they produce. They don’t turn in error-filled reports, create bug-ridden software code, or fail to manage a project to its milestones. And most of all, they don’t complain about the problems. They simply find solutions, often times coming up with innovative answers to tough and challenging issues.
And last, but not least…
Believe you are a rockstar. Maybe this should have been first… Because if you don’t believe you can be a rockstar, you won’t act like one to begin with. And being a rockstar all starts with the confidence of knowing that you have one living inside you. Doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or an extrovert, tall or short, fat or skinny. Rockstars come in all shapes, sizes, and dispositions. Don’t think that playing golf with the boss will make you more of a rockstar than contributing high quality work that helps solve critical problems and drives measurable results.
Obviously, there are countless other qualities that make people rockstars in their jobs. I’d love to hear some other opinions about what it takes to achieve rockstar status.