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? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Cyberquill

    The only situation where I’ve ever been accused of over-delivering was when I dabbled in acting, where I was frequently admonished by a director to stop hamming it up and instead to “do less.” Eventually, I took this advice to heart and henceforth refrained from over-delivering even in all my subsequent lines of work.

    • TorConstantino

      I see your point and I think you’re alluding to Tim Ferris’ mantra of minimal investment for maximum return – meaning, if you’re able to accomplish something in three steps, then why do it in seven. While that outlook might be effective in many areas of work, I definitely think there room for “blowing the doors” off the hinges of expectations….

      • Cyberquill

        Of course, because in most lines of work, over-delivering is the only way to ensure maximum return.

        Tim Ferris sounds like a student of Stanislavski’s.

    • Brent

      Actually, it sounds like you were not fully in sync with what the director needed. Over deliver and over kill are not the same. Kudos for your zeal, though! Zeal refined to hone in on what the leader needs/wants will win out over time as we all learn to hone in on what our leaders need from us.

  • Deborah Owen

    I love this idea Michael! I think it is something that I have pretty consistently tried to do over the years (sometimes more successfully than other times), so this is a great reminder. One thing I have noticed though, is that occasionally you may work for a boss who begins to feel somewhat threatened by someone who is such an achiever. You begin to realize that they may be taking out their insecurities on you! When this was suggested to me by one colleague about my up and down relationship with a boss for whom I work hard, I kind of dismissed it. But when it was suggested by a second colleague and hinted at by a third, I realized that I had a problem. I don’t really want to change the way I do things because I enjoy getting good results in my job, and making a difference for the kids with whom I work every day, but I also need to be careful. Do you have any clarifications, or suggestions for when this happens?

    • Michael Hyatt

      If it were me, I’d find a new boss. Seriously. You can’t win in a situation like this.

      • Michele Cushatt

        Totally agree.

    • Dustin LeBlanc

      I was thinking something similar, sometimes it seems that bosses just can’t get clear on what they want. I once asked a manager for a list of priorities in order of what was most important to do, down to what was least important. His answer was “they are all equally important” which leads to none of them being important. To exceed in that situation, it would have been required to be at work two hours early every day, and stay late, and somehow meet unrealistic customer expectations in between. Sometimes, expectations are unsustainable, and being able to get clear on that is difficult.

  • Ralph M. Rickenbach

    Looking back on my life – or at least the last 13 years – I have to say that this was exactly what I was yearning for: the chance to over-deliver.

    In my early career that was my trademark. But then things changed around on me and I did not have anything to deliver any more. I worked, alright, but of all the work done in these 13 years, only two programs are still in production (I used to be a computer programmer). Another one had gone into production for a short while, but most programs never made it out of the doors of the companies I worked for. Companies went bankrupt, both clients and employers, programs were replaced, initiatives stopped for political reasons, and so forth.

    Last year the time came for me to change things. Two reasons: first, I had a call and not the courage to go forward, but secondly, I was deeply, I mean deeply depressed and discouraged not having the change to surprise my employer and my client.

    In my case, I drew a lot of my self-esteem and worth from this. That was a problem, and I guess that is why God had put me in these situations where I could not proof to myself that “I still have it”.

    But it sure is a great advice to build a successful career. That will for sure have you stand out of the crowd.

    • Brian

      Great post thanks for your honesty and transparency. I am reading a great book Id like to recommend “The True Measure of a Man” by Richard Simmons (not the exersize guy).
      He proclaims the true meaning of a man has little to do with performance, over delivering at work but significance in “Who” we are becomming in the eyes of our Father in Heaven. Who we are developing into as men, not worldly men but Godly men, men seeking first His kingdom and a relationship with His Son!

      • Ralph M. Rickenbach

        That is exactly the journey I am on. Thank you, I will have a look at the book. Blessings.

      • Michael Hyatt

        Yep, I agree. You have to separate performance at work with performance with God. Two different realms.

  • kuipaing

    I god so many encouragement so very good

  • elisa freschi

    Thanks for the idea. Nonetheless, I have a question I hope you can relate with: I work as a researcher and I do not have a boss (I am myself a “project leader”). In this sense, my “bosses” are the head of the departments I would like to work for in the future, or the people who read my research, or the peers who evaluate it… Too many people to ask them what they expect. Furthermore, as usual, they expect different things (some of them prefer hard-core research, others dissemination skills and so on). Given that you are in a somewhat comparable situation, how do you measure how to over-deliver?

    • Michael Hyatt

      In my business, I focus on who is paying me. That’s the person (or persons) I want to make sure I wow.

  • Justin Buck

    A local jewelry store has billboards all over town. Tjey read: “Stunning is standard.” Love this idea of accepting only “wow” from yourself.

    • TorConstantino

      That is an awesome quote Justin – Stunning is Standard – I’m going to have to steal…um, er…I mean borrow it ;-)

      • Justin Buck

        Don’t worry, Tor, I won’t tip the jewelry store off to your “heist”.

    • Michele Cushatt

      Excellent tag line! So much contained in three words.

  • Elizabeth Darcy Jones

    It’s so often easier than it sounds! Surprise is all. Delivering an edible thank you to my clients at the end of their corporate identity coaching sessions leaves them – literally – with a sweet taste in their mouths! So, a virtual piece of ‘grit cake’ is coming over to you, Michael, for such pertinent posts and the sound ‘platform’ of ‘Platform’!

    • TorConstantino

      That’s a great idea Elizabeth – I love the sensory engagement. I’ve heard one leadership coach suggest that we must view every professional interaction we have as a Broadway play we’re producing.

      He said, really good Broadway productions have at least one song that the audience will be humming when they leave the theater. The coach stressed that we need to over-deliver on every professional engagement so that the other individual leaves the experience positively “humming” our tune.

      • Elizabeth Darcy Jones

        Hmm… interesting because sound speaks before words! Thanks for that comment too.

  • Fayr

    In my job at a convenience store company, I overachieved for well over a year. The boss said the company had given me a certain percentage raise in the time I’d been there, here’s a quarter more.

    Not all bosses care about those in thr ranks bending over backwards ti give them what they wamt & need.

    • Michael Hyatt

      In my experience, you just have to have faith that ultimately, working hard and doing the right thing will be rewarded—if not there, then in another context. More important, what kind of person do you want to be? For me, even if it was never rewarded, I would still over-deliver. Why? Because I want to be the best steward I can be of the resources I’ve been given.

  • Tom Cocklereece

    The trick may be, “Find out what your boss wants.” As Stephen Covey said in “The Eighth Discipline” bosses don’t always make their expectations clear. In fact as many as 60% fail to communicate clear expectations to employees.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I always saw my boss as the customer, so I assumed it was my responsibility to figure out what he wanted. The cool thing about this is that I am ion control. I don’t have to blame my boss, I have the joy of exploration and discovery.

  • Brian

    Thank you Michael,

    According to the book The True Measure of a Man by Richard Simmons this is in large part why we have become ineffective leaders and men. “Because we base our value in our Performance”. That we have become so tied to performing and deriving our value from it, whether over performing (Over delivering) or Under performing that we have adopted a worldview of what success means, which is non Biblical.

    I love Jack Welch and who can argue with his own so called success, however could it be that this thinking has actually had a negative effect on the lives of many people and leaders and those who can make a difference in the world?

    I am simply wrestling with this issue and taking some time to reflect on it. At first glance my mind says “Yes, this is it, this makes sense, this is what we are to do, over deliver, do more, be more, give more” And yet on the other hand I have to wonder “Is this really true, does this make me more of a leader, a better man, more succesful in an eternal way, in a way that would glorify God, someone of significant influence”?

    I would love to hear/see your personal thoughts on this Michael, thank you in advance.

    Thank you Michael I appreciate your daily posts and helpful information, it stimulates much thought.


    • Gary Morland

      Brian, I just take this as being about your career and not your identity as a person. It’s easy to me to marry the two. But for me the discipline is in knowing my career is not who I am, my career is what I do.

      When my identity is secure in Jesus, I’m free to succeed greatly or fail miserably and it does not touch my identity. I’m not loved or accepted any more or less. I’m not a better or worse man. But I would like to find out more about that succeed greatly feeling!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Brian. In the kingdom, it’s all about serving others. You could frame it in that way as well. This doesn’t earn you favor with God or change your inherent worth. But it does make you more useful and that has value too.

  • Doug Smith


    Excellent post. Growing up, I was never taught to work hard or have high standards. As I have grown as a young leader, I have learned to work hard and set high standards. As I have continued to raise the bar, I can definitely relate when you said:

    “Of course, the problem with exceeding expectations is that your performance quickly becomes the new standard.”

    I remember hearing John Maxwell say that, “You should ALWAYS have higher standards for yourself than anyone else has for you. In fact, if someone has to deal with you about your performance, they’ve already labeled you.”

    This post encouraged me and challenged me to continue to raise the bar and set higher standards for myself than anyone else will. Thank you!

    • TorConstantino

      Great comment Doug, I think your honesty and insight will definitely help propel you forward!

  • Esther Aspling

    Honestly, I’ve had mixed experiences with over-delivery. I’ve always loved the jaw dropping moments, but as a perfectionist, they can lead to a cycle that isn’t healthy. Plus I’ve been in positions where despite those dropping jaws of those around me, I was still invisible to whoever I was under.
    Overall, I still believe in putting your best product forward, and always learning to improve even if you aren’t required to.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Agreed. However, I have also observed that people are noticed even when they think they aren’t.

  • colbycm

    As obvious as his quote seemed, it’s amazing how in-frequently it happens. I have to say, I believe (and this is a blanket-statement) our culture has largely shifted into a paradigm of mediocrity. It’s not about over-delivery and striving for excellence anymore, but about doing enough to get by.
    Michael, in one of your podcasts you said, “If you are happy with the status-quo, don’t hire a leader.” How true! Status-quo isn’t leadership and it certainly doesn’t over-deliver. Status quo is the death of leadership and performance.
    I’ve never praised someone for maintaining the status quo, and my boss has never praised me for it, either.
    Leaders have to be the ones who set the bar higher than anyone else. They have to have goals that many people think are too tough to reach. Then they go out there and they do it. They deliver.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I agree. The silver lining is that this makes it easier to stand out. This requires courage. (I am amazed at how many people are afraid to do this.)

  • deandeguara

    I think I do, but in my sphere it can be a trap because there is not always a place to advance to. I always believe in setting the bar high, but as you mentioned once its raised you have to keep it there and you have to be OK with not being rewarded.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Ultimately, creating wow has to be it’s own reward.

      • deandeguara

        Powerful statement and very true. I can chew on that for a while! No doubt wow is satisfying to the soul.

  • Dan Erickson

    I’m a college faculty member. It’s kind of a different world. Faculty members usually don’t try to impress their boss to move up the ladder. The ones that do are often looked at with some disdain as show-offs by other faculty. The job of faculty is to teach and research. I’m a teacher. I won’t get a raise for teaching better or doing more. Still, I do my best That’s why I write and blog on the side of my teaching work. Quite frankly, I love being an independent and not having to work to impress others. I only do what I do to better myself and offer helpful advice and heartfelt art to others.

    • Michele Cushatt

      You bring up a good point about motive. After reading this post, I had similar thoughts. I strive toward “wow” primarily because I had a father who said “If it’s not worth excellence, it’s not worth doing.” Rather than being motive driven, it was just “what we do.”

      • Dan Erickson

        It took me nearly 50 years to get to the point of just doing “what we do.”

    • TorConstantino

      I can appreciate your perspective Dan. However, aren’t faculty members encouraged to conduct research, publish peer-reviewed papers/articles and secure grants? Those activities help elevate the profile and credibility of the respective department. While sucking up to a dean or department chair might be bad form – over delivering on the research/publication/grants side of the equation will certainly please the boss – correct?

      • Dan Erickson

        That is true to an extent. It’s an expectation in the early part of their careers. Once they reach a certain amount of publications and tenure they can either settle down and just teach or comntinue to do research more based on their own motives. I’m at a teaching school and never had to do research, by choice. I have a good friend who was shunned by the rest of his department becasue he pushed the barre higher in regard to research. He’s recently retired and is going to focus on writing. His most recent book is called “The Lonely Activist,”

        • TorConstantino

          Fair points Dan and thanks for the book recommendation!

  • MikeGosnell

    Jack has been a long time “mentor from afar” for me. Everything said here is true. Know what success looks like, then use your personal creativity to make it even better!

    • TorConstantino

      That’s the key Mike – knowing and aligning with what success looks like!

      • MikeGosnell

        That true Tor!

  • Butch Howard

    This misses the mark. You will be more successful if you over deliver to everyone, especially your peers.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Fair point. The applications are endless. (Works in your family, church, and a thousand other places.)

  • Cheri Gregory

    Interesting juxtaposition in my in box this morning:

    via Michael Hyatt: The secret to success = “Find out what your boss wants and then over-deliver.” (

    via Seth Godin: “…spending ten years contributing to something that you don’t care about, or working with someone who doesn’t care about you…you can do better.” (

    Perhaps the secret to success is first making sure you care and are valued … then finding out what the boss wants and over-delivering.

    Over-delivery on its own can lead to burn out.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I read Seth’s post too. Excellent. I think my post assumes you are working for a boss and a cause you care about. If not, what’s holding you back?

      • Cheri Gregory

        Michael Hyatt — I’ll gladly admit to forcing the juxtaposition for the sake of reflection.

        After years of my boss lauding my over-delivery but not valuing me as an individual, I find myself caring less and less about the cause.

        This is my responsibility, no one else’s. I wish I’d seen it coming so I could have prevented it for everyone’s sake, or at least stopped it sooner. But I’m taking action now.

        • Michael Hyatt

          GOod for you, Cheri.

    • Michele Cushatt

      Fascinating, Cheri. Thanks for sharing this.

  • benberson

    Thanks michael for that powerful twke away from chick fil A. I am going to Find clarity about my new boss’ expectations and then … Over deliver!

    • TorConstantino

      Go for it Ben – you won’t be disappointed!!!

  • John Richardson

    I agree with your premise 100%. Unfortunately, in many job situations, overachieving is now frowned upon. You can’t work more hours than you are paid for, or we might have to pay you for overtime. You can’t do things outside of your job description, or we might have to pay you at a higher rate. Just do what you are told and no more. Frustrating… but more and more common.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I definitely wouldn’t last in that environment. I have to find a game I can win. Thanks.

      • John Richardson

        I agree. I was blown away on a previous job when we were told that we had to go home on time, and that we couldn’t do things that weren’t on our job description. When companies have to bump people down to the lowest common denominator, everyone loses.

  • Adam Rico

    This is great Michael. Next month I’m speaking on this very topic of how to grow your career. This idea of over delivering is the foundation for my presentation.

    Like John Maxwell said at the Leadercast, it’s a simple idea but hard to apply.

    To a certain degree this requires a high level of emotional intelligence to be able to put yourself into your boss’ shoes and understand what would make them say “wow.” Technical abilities only get you so far – it’s the ability to understand and work with people that propels you forward.

    • Michael Hyatt

      So true, Adam. This kind of emotional intelligence is essential whether you work in a corporate job, own a small business with clients, or are marketing online. It really comes back to a Zig Ziglar concept: you can have anything you want as long as you are willing to help enough people get what they want.

  • Pingback: The Quickest Way to Advance Your Career | Pastor Leaders()

  • David Hitchcock

    Even more important, is NEVER let your boss be surprised by questions from his management about things you have control or responsibility for. Always over communicate.

    • Jim Martin

      Great point. I have never seen anyone raise an eyebrow when I communicated well – even to the point when it felt like I had over-communicated. However, I have felt the awkwardness, when it became obvious that I had under-communicated.

    • TorConstantino

      Thanks a great point David – I always want to make sure that my boss hears bad news from me first. It’s also important to bring a few options to fix the problem as well. I love the old proverb, “Don’t curse the darkness, light a candle.”

  • Jim Hamlett

    In many cases this is true, especially in the cockpit. Deliver more than the passengers are expecting, and you’ll be rewarded with at least a round of applause when you make a good landing under bad conditions.

    But there are situations in which the more you do, the more is expected, and there’s no genuine reward. Your bar is moved higher, and you’re expected to clear it. I once worked for a company in which I wore more than one hat. I worked myself to death (60-70 hr. weeks) because I wanted to be a team player and advance in the company. It took me ten years to figure out the game wasn’t going to change.

    Sometimes, the best way to advance your career is to say goodbye to the one you’re in and go elsewhere. I should have done it much sooner.

    • TorConstantino

      I think you make an excellent point Jim about organizational culture and situational awareness. When you are executing at a high level and your skills and expertise are not appreciated – it’s masochistic to continue being abuse. I completely agree that at those moments we need to be emotionally intelligent – and move on.

      • Jim Hamlett

        Thank you, Tor. “Situational awareness” is aviation lingo. Do you fly?

        I’d like to add that I enjoyed many positive experiences with that employer and learned many good things. But I would have saved myself–and my family–a lot of grief if I’d made the move sooner.

        • TorConstantino

          I don’t fly (but have always wanted to get my pilot’s license). My familiarity with that phrase comes from my martial arts training – of being aware of your surroundings and potential threats to avoid them before it happens.

          As far as knowing when to leave an employer, I can TOTALLY relate to lingering too long – one past toxic place of employment comes to mind – ugh!

  • Leigh Anne Bailey

    I think the other important concept here is the under committing. I learned the “under commit, over deliver” phrase years ago. I have always had a hard time saying “no” to people. I had often found myself in situations where it was impossible to follow through with my commitments. This left not only those counting on me disappointed, but me disappointed in myself as well. Now, I do not commit to things I feel I may not be able to complete, but instead, overdeliver on the modest contribution to which I had committed.

    • Jim Martin

      Leigh Anne, I appreciate your words. I can think of times that I have over committed and the end result was often frustrating for me as what I delivered lacked the precision and detail that needed. Took me a long time to realize that saying “yes” too many times can be costly.

  • thecharitablesteward

    Excellent Michael. Honestly, I initially thought: “Oh brother, here we go with the ethereal over-deliver’ cloud…again.” But #s 2 & 3 brought it down to terra firma. Itemize what IS expected…specifically. Then how do I creatively give more than this specific expectation? Great stuff good man.

    • Jim Martin

      I also thought 2 and 3 were especially helpful. It is far too easy to assume that we know expectations instead of doing the work necessary to get clarity about what really is expected.

  • Robert Andrews

    It took me years to figure this simple principle out. For years, I felt my work was all about ME and How I was going to get the glory and how I was going to get raise. My philosophy was give the customer what he or she asks for. Or why do more than what he or asks, I’ll get paid the same anyway. Years into my career when I actually put forth just a little more effort, someone complimented me and told me that they had been watching me. Then I finally I got it!

    • TorConstantino

      Robert that is a tremendous insight – we can’t succeed in a vacuum, we need others on a team. Awesome!

  • Nathan Magnuson

    Michael, Jack Welch was by-far my favorite Leadercast speaker as well. He shared so many insights! This post was great and point #3 took it from a good idea to extremely practical. Thanks for sharing!

    • TorConstantino

      I really liked #3 as well Nathan. Each of us is unique and we bring a different perspective than anyone else to every situation. A custom made solution to a thorny issue is a great way to flex our individual creativity and differentiate ourselves!

      • Nathan Magnuson

        “Flex our individual creativity” – nice thought! #gunshow

  • NOLA

    Michael, I work for a small non-profit, and I try to consistently go above and beyond. However, I feel like my former boss built a perception of me to our board that didn’t demonstrate my work ethic/quality, and that perception still lingers. Any advice on how to work on overcoming? I will definitely be sitting down with my new boss to discuss expectations. Thanks for the wonderful post!

    • Michael Hyatt

      You can only build a reputation back one impression at a time. Words won’t likely help. You have to demonstrate with your actions. You won’t change their perception overnight, but you can definitely change it.

  • Student Launch Pad

    I think this is such an important concept especially for recent college graduates to learn. Like Welch said, students are used to completing homework assignments, not over-delivering. Something else that Welch said stood out to me too that you should make your boss smarter than he or she was before (s)he met you. Welch suggested helping your boss see from a new perspective, which I think ties into over-delivering since extra thinking is required to see a project “outside of the box.”

    • TorConstantino

      Great points! I think it all comes back to the core question of who do you want to serve – others (including your boss) or yourself???

  • Laurel Emory

    Thank you, Michael. I definitely agree with this and my former supervisors will tell you that I consistently wow’d them by over-performing. My follow-up question about this is, as a current job-seeker, how do I convey my standard of excellence, my record of over-performing to those I’m submitting my applications/resume’ to, so that I’ll be offered an interview? I appreciate any insights you have to share.

    • Michael Hyatt

      I would just let the facts speak for themselves without a lot of embellishment.

  • Denise Roberts

    I think a huge factor in delivering the ‘wow’ is heart attitude and mindset. If my agenda is to ‘wow’ for myself then my motivation will be focused in the wrong arena. If my ‘wow’ focus is on God’s glory (as trite as that can sound) then regardless of the outcome here I know it was noticed in His realm. performance can be a pitfall if it is done for what is in it for me. I have an employee that comes everyday saying she loves her job. She cleans toilets….. She does not love the action of her job (I’m sure) but the organization she belongs to and she has worked to keep her mind and heart on the delivery. The key here is recognizing the battle. A co-worker blasted me yesterday on an expectation I had and I was momentarily defeated until I remembered that it not what he thinks that counts but the goal of my boss and his expectations. I hate conflict but I embrace conflict resolution and sometimes that is not with the other person but with my own mind and heart as I get back on course. Success in the end (in my opinion) is your approach regardless of the outcome. Obviously the ‘wow’ is the goal but it may just take longer to arrive than we expect and our internal response will make a difference over the long haul.

    • TorConstantino

      Denise, I really appreciate your comment and the example you shared. One of the things I try to do to ensure proper motive is to practice Colossians 3:23 “…do your work as unto the Lord…” – that really helps me start each project with the proper motivation to serve.

      • Denise Roberts

        Just so happens that is the verse we use when we are working with the clients….so I hear you and do the same. Thanks for the confirmation.

  • Vikki

    This may a unique situation, but what if you consistently over-deliver, yet you work in a company that “under-performs” – performs below its potential?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Honestly, maybe it’s time to move on. I once worked in a company like this as a salesperson. I was tired of not getting my bonus because the company didn’t perform even though I did.

      • Vikki

        Thank you. I agree. #enoughsaid

  • Vicki

    I love that you put into words what I have lived my entire career. It’s worked for me and I try very hard to instill this attitude in my kids. I’m going to show them this post and hope they will take to heart what they see their parents live every day.

    • TorConstantino

      Brava Vicki, I applaud your effort to instill high standards in your kids. Despite the overwhelming onslaught from all media – engaged parents still have the greatest impact on their kids!

  • Janine Dupree

    I used to have this reputation with my boss and over the past year I have lost it due to a client that I was assigned to work with. I was not the best pick for the role and I let it influence me too much. Do you have any advice as to how to get back to having this reputation after you have lost it?

    • Michael Hyatt

      The only way to earn back a lost reputation is one impression at a time. It might be necessary to have a conversation with your boss eventually, but I probably wouldn’t do that initially. The good news is that you have probably lowered his expectations. Now you just need to exceed them!

  • TorConstantino

    Awesome, awesome advice! The people who have the toughest time “getting this” are those who are only focused on themselves. I’ve found that doing the best I possibly can at this very moment, puts me in a better position for the next moment.

    The one thing I would add, would be to try and deliver “wow” regardless if the person is your boss, peer or subordinate.

    Corporate America is overly-indexed on individuals who only “manage up.”

    • Michael Hyatt

      You’re exactly right, Tor.

  • Michele Cushatt

    Great question! I guess you’d have to ask our clients! My husband and I are both self-employed, so our customers are the boss. We constantly strive to over-deliver, primarily because we believe the best marketing is the word-of-mouth variety. If we wow them with our service, attention and attitude, they’re more likely to start conversations about what we do. Not sure we always hit the mark, but this is the goal.

    • TorConstantino

      Michele, I think the simple fact that you and Troy are aware of the concept is a strong indicator that it’s embedded within all you do.

      Kind of like the parents that ask each other, “Are we doing all we can do to raise good kids?” – the fact that such a question is top of mind is a fairly clear indication of its answer.

      • Michele Cushatt

        Thanks, Tor. I sure hope so.

  • Jonathan Harrison

    One thing that has helped me with over-delivering, is putting together an agenda for bi-weekly metings with my boss. I can review what I think the top priorities are, and confirm that we are on the same page. It really helps to over-deliver on the right things!
    By the way Michael, I liked how Tripp allowed you to tell the joke during the introduction of Jack Welch..that had me laughing for a while.

    • TorConstantino

      I love the idea Jon of putting action to intention. While establishing bi-weekly meetings with your boss can’t guarantee success it greatly reduces the chance of failure.

      I’m not sure how familiar you are with Tripp and Tyler’s work but here is one of their more HY-larious videos about iPhone’s auto-correct feature:

      • Jonathan Harrison

        Becoming more familiar!! I was in stiches over the “high five” video, and I’ll need to see the iphone video when I am not drinking any spewable liquids. I am thanking you in advance (and my wife is rolling her eyes in advance: ) )

    • Michael Hyatt

      Ha. I even wrote it—well, at least my response.

  • Brian Horvath

    Wow, Michael. What another terrific post. Thank You! I believe I have done an excellent job of overachieving in my current ministry environment with God-sized results (It’s all Him) and I am sometimes angered that they want to give me more. What dawned on me; however, is that I need to be more “my boss’ agenda-driven”. I am so in tune with what I envision as success and can often neglect what my leaders need. Thank you for helping me see this clearly. Would you recommend John Maxwell’s book, “The 360 Leader”? Thanks.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, that’s a terrific book.

  • Graham Scharf

    For me, the biggest take-away is not to over-promise. If I keep my talk small, it is easier to exceed with actions.

    • Michael Hyatt

      True. That often works in a job. It’s tougher when you are trying to attract clients. You can’r over-promise, but you probably won’t get the job if you shoot too low. It’s definitely an art not a science.

      • Graham Scharf

        Well said. As a first-time author, I definitely feel that credibility tension.

  • Mark Lamprecht

    I like these ideas. I wonder how they may be implemented at a small company with limited resources.

  • Travis Dommert

    The other advice I’ve received and tried to apply consistently is delivering value in ways that result in absolutely no direct benefit back to you.

    I have found this especially powerful with customers, but I think the same could be said for serving your boss. (Of course, giving to others always finds its way back to you in time!)

  • laurabacci

    This is so true. It is not about working endless hours or looking smart every time your boss or client walks into the room. It is about surprising by exceeding
    expectations and adding the value where it matters most.

    I’ve had the chance to work as a consultant for a few multinationals in the past few years. What I’ve noticed is that when you over deliver, the working
    relationship with your client just takes off. It becomes like a partnership,
    where you can share ideas and build on each other’s strengths. And this is when
    the fun begins and when you start achieving incredible things. Budget and the
    size of the team don’t draw you back any more. You’re on a mission with your
    client and you both enjoy the journey. It’s no longer only about getting to the
    final destination. That’s the magic that comes with over delivering.

    I love your idea about listing your boss’s (or client’s) expectations on a spreadsheet. That’s the starting block that’ll help you gain awareness when you begin a project/job. And also the roadmap that you can use to check whether you’re still on the right track. Laura

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Laura. That’s been my experience as well.

  • Lincoln Parks

    Under promise and Over deliver. In my Business I do it all the time. Clients and customers need to be wowed. There are bigger and stronger companies with what I do, but because of the small team that I have that’s focused on Wow, it leaves my customers asking for more and sharing my name.

  • Shelia Stovall

    I read Jack Welch’s book years ago and his advice helped advance my career. As I’ve started investing more time into my hobby of writing, I hope to enter the publishing world, Reading your words this morning helped me realize that if I want to get my fledgling career off the ground I need to understand what agents want and over-deliver. I need to understand what the reader wants and over-deliver. Researching the market is just as important as honing my writing skills. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Steve Martin

    And whatever you do…don’t get on the wrong side of the IRS.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Haha, ain’t that true!

  • Joyce

    Interesting … I was just having this discussion with a former boss of mine, who has remained a mentor and friend to me over the last 15 years. I was thanking him for having put in extra effort to guide and mentor me early in my career and was curious to why he took notice. He reminded me of my enthusiasm, positivity, drive, focus and most importantly ability to make an impression by WOWing others by going beyond what was expected and really owning each project. He said “when you are in the mix people are encouraged and motivated to higher performance and to continue learning…” I was really humbled, thinking ‘Lord I hope I continue to live a life where these things are true of me’. But ‘over-delivery’ really is a great career tip.

    • Michael Hyatt

      What a beautiful compliment. THAT’s what I’m talking about!

  • Jeff Madsen

    Hi Michael: What do we do if we’re committed to exceeding our bosses’ expectations, but we’re not always committed to our boss?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I think I’d have to know a lot more about the situation before I could speak to it intelligently. Thanks.

  • Edwina Cowgill

    Michael, I enjoyed seeing you and Tripp MC the CFA Leadercast last week!It was truly an awesome event and the staff in my office are already looking forward to next year!
    I think I’ve always gone above and beyond for every person I’ve worked for because my Dad instilled that characteristic in me when I was a teenager and about to start my first job. My dad is a man of integrity who worked his way through the ranks one of the largest yarn manufacturers in the US. He told me to always give 100% and then 100% on top of that…because there will always be someone willing to step into my position and give their 200%.

  • Chris G. Paulk

    I attended the Chick-fil-a Leadercast at one of the simulcast locations. I really LOVED all of the content, and I really enjoyed your hosting…great job!
    Jack Welch’s comment really stuck with me, too. I took every member of my 8 person team to the event. This was the first leadership event or content some have been directly exposed to, and I was so excited when Jack said this phrase.
    I’m glad to see you thought so highly of his comment. I have a great team, and I’m very grateful they each over deliver so our organization can strive for the same.
    Thanks for the commentary to his comment.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Chris, great job on investing in your team and taking them to the leadership event. They’ve come back changed, no doubt.

  • Holly Gordon

    I believe over-delivering was how I was promoted to “Business Unit Leader” (read Manufacturing Department Manager) …over production, quality, engineers, in-directly the line workers, maintenance, etc at age 27. I started in Engineering and was the youngest salaried person in the plant.

    • John Tiller

      Congrats, Holly! That’s a great example.

  • John Fritsche

    My constant need to over-deliver has been great in every job I have done but it takes a lot of time. I have seen the greatest return for my time with school. I put in the time to over-deliver and I am rewarded with not only perfect grades but a true comprehension of the material. I am changing careers right now so my Wow will no longer go unnoticed.

    • Joe Lalonde

      John, that is awesome that you’re seeing the results from over-delivering. They sure can help propel you in the proper direction. It will also help you advance as you progress in your career. Keep it up!

  • Jeremy McCommons

    This is great advice! As a business owner I am my own boss, but I recognize that my clients and patrons are the ones I must over-deliver to which can be a bit more difficult as I now have lots of bosses with varying expectations. I think one of the best ways to over-deliver without moving into the territory of trying to please everyone is staying true to and over-delivering on your company’s vision and standards. Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  • Paul Hunt

    When I was working, I tried to find out what my customer needed preferably something that no one else was delivering. After clarifying the need, I delivered it.

  • JPhillipC

    This is a very high value article. Two recommendations really hit home to me. The first was deciding to ‘overdeliver’. So simple, but of course! In my career and life, when I have decided to and committed to over-delivering, I always did. The other point, one where I haven’t done so good a job at, is getting clarity on what my ‘boss’ wants. Sometimes, (like any customer) they don’t know. Part of the challenge is helping them clarify what it is then exceeding it!

  • Pingback: Over-Deliver: The Key to Career Advancement | Shane Vander Hart()

  • archiwriter

    What do you do if you are not able to exceed your bosses expectations? I simply don’t have the physical and mental stamina to work in my intense work environment for 15 hours a day and be on point with everything i do and say. But the job looks good on my resume.

    • John Tiller

      To answer your question, I would consider asking your boss, “What are his/her expectations of you?”

      If the expectations conflict with each other (i.e. work intensely 15 hours/day AND be on point with everything you do and say), then ask for clarification of priorities … Is it more important to be on the clock 15 hours/day or is it more important to be on point all the time?

      There are multiple studies that prove that shorter work days = more productivity. If the boss doesn’t agree, maybe more frequent breaks to re-charge are in order.

      If you find that the expectations are truly unreasonable, it may be time to start looking for a better workplace. :)

  • Chad Vanags

    I do have a reputation for over-delivering and I’m proud of it. But how do you know when you’re over-delivery deserves a promotion or financial reward? More importantly, what happens when you know you deserve the promotion or financial reward but the “boss” won’t give it, even after the proper conversations and review? How do you handle that?

  • Sumit


    My question goes like this that :Certainly when Boss is demanding (Roaring Tiger), one has to surpass the limits as Boss may like to see beyond sky also and thus employee need to perform like that but what could be the position wherein Boss himself is having a conservative approach towards work (Dumb Puppet) i.e. Roaring Tigers vs Dumb Puppet.

    Fortunately, I have till now experienced all Roaring Tigers and above phenomenon has exactly worked for me quite well.

    But in case of other scenario of Dumb Puppet, I am looking forward for your views or comments

  • Don

    Candidly, I’d rather not find out what my boss wants and over deliver.

    I’d rather come to a meeting of the minds where we share the same vision and passion for the mission. I do really deeply want to see my boss succeed (it’s deeply inbred in me, perhaps through upbringing). At the same time, however, I’m an independent individual (we all are) and the vision and mission needs to really be mine–I need to really buy into it. From there, guidance and leadership from a respected leader makes very good sense to me.

    If it comes down to it, I’m there to serve, and if the “boss” wants Goal A and I really feel we should pursue Goal B, well if they have heard me and understand but still go with A, then A it is–with a good will!

    But a little of that goes a long ways before burnout sets in, and with it poor performance.

    If a boss pretty much wants me to “work for her/him” I cannot do that. But “find out what you boss wants and over deliver” in its pure form requires that mentality of “I’m working for them” not on a team with them.

    In contrast, I try to ask the team I’m leading “how can I help you succeed?” I’m hardly perfect at it, but it is our top value. Everyone on our team chose to work there because the believe in our vision, and our mission and our values. They really do feel that the values etc. are THEIR values. From there, I find myself frequently guiding and helping them clarify and accomplish THEIR goals, because they are born out of our shared vision.

    I would be pretty repulsed and actually sad if I found out that members of my team are asking, what does our leader want from me and how can I over deliver? I would feel like I totally blew it as the leader of the team.

    Conversely, if they are continually asking how they can get better and better at delivering on their goals that they are passionate about because they really are their goals born out of our vision, now we’re talking!

  • AEB

    As a woman in business, I just assumed exceeding the mark was the baseline in order to run the race with male colleagues.