The Quickest Way to Advance Your Career

Last Friday, I had the privilege of hosting the Chick-fil-a Leadercast, along with my friend, Tripp Crosby. All the speakers were outstanding. But something Jack Welch said really stood out to me.

The Quickest Way to Advance Your Career

Photo courtesy of ©Getty Images/Thomas Lohnes

Henry Cloud, who interviewed Jack, asked, “What’s the secret to success?”

Without hesitation, he blurted, “Find out what your boss wants and then over-deliver.”

Simple, but spot-on.

In my book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, I define wow as what happens when you deliver more than your customer expects. In today’s competitive environment, you must create wow to succeed.

The same is true in your career. This is what Jack was saying. If you want to turbo-charge your career and advance more rapidly, you must consistently over-deliver.

Delivering on what your boss expects will give you job security (maybe), but it won’t get you noticed. And if you don’t get noticed, you won’t get promoted. It’s as simple as that. You have to stand-out.

When I think back over my career and consider the hundreds of people who worked for me, the ones I remember are those who consistently over-delivered. They made an indelible impression on my psyche.

This isn’t a difficult concept to grasp. Yet, it’s surprising that more people aren’t intentional about using it as a fundamental career strategy.

You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. Or the most creative. Or even the hardest working. All you have to do is be committed to exceeding the boss’s expectations.

Here are some suggestions for harnessing the power of over-delivering to turbo-charge your career and give you an edge over everyone else:

  1. Make the decision to over-deliver. Few good things happen by accident. You have to decide you are going to do something differently—or do it at a different level. Just making this decision will set things in motion. It’s amazing how many aren’t willing to do this. They are content to do just enough to get by.

  2. Get clear on your boss’s (or client’s) expectations. It’s really not about you—not if you are going to succeed. You have to be committed to making your boss successful. What does he expect from you? This is worth considering overall and on the front-end of each initiative. Start by asking, “What do you expect from me?” His response sets the bar.

  3. Identify specific ways you can exceed them. This is where the fun begins. List your boss’s (or client’s) expectations in one column of a sheet of paper or on a spreadsheet. Now, in another column, list what you could do to exceed those expectations. How can you make his jaw drop or at least make him smile with delight? Use your creativity to create a wow experience.

  4. Make wow your new standard. Every time you exceed your boss’s expectations, you create a branding impression. You want to develop a reputation for consistently over-delivering. You want to be the first person your boss thinks of when considering a new position or important project. That’s the secret to getting ahead.

Of course, the problem with exceeding expectations is that your performance quickly becomes the new standard. That’s why you have to be committed to never-ending improvement. Every new position, every new project is an opportunity to grow and realize your own potential.

Question: Do you have a reputation of over-delivering with your boss or clients? What would it take to get there? Share your answer on , , or .

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