10 Characteristics That Set Exceptional Employees Apart

We tend to view the most successful people in the world as if they were destined to do great things. Bill Gates was destined to create Microsoft; Mark Zuckerberg was destined to found Facebook; Michael Jordan was destined to become the greatest basketball player in history.

When we think this way, however, we discredit all the hard work these people put into making their dream become a reality. The truth is, each of these people were once beginners in their field. At one point in time, their names were indistinguishable from anyone else’s. Although they certainly were born with an immense amount of talent, it’s what they chose to do with their abilities that made them world-famous. Successful employees are successful because:

1. They Think Long-Term

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Greatness is not achieved through a single action. Those who live with the idea that one incredible accomplishment should allow them to sit back and relax usually end up falling short of true success, and wasting their true potential.

On the other hand, those who see past initial success into the long-term understand that every hill has an accompanying valley, so to speak. In other words, they know that just because they’re currently experiencing success doesn’t mean the future will always be as bright. They take into consideration both the ups and the downs, and work hard to create as many ups in their lives as possible.

2. They Never Settle

Going along with the last point, those who are “destined” for success tend to be successful simply because they never stop trying to do more. Sure, they might stop pushing for a short time to celebrate major achievements, but they never rest on their laurels and miss a subsequent chance to keep improving. They don’t view success as a mountain to climb; rather, they see it as a continuous cycle. Once they complete one goal, they immediately set another one for themselves. And they’re certainly never happy with doing “just OK” in their work; they put their all into everything they do, knowing that anything less would be a complete waste of their talents and time on Earth.

3. They Handle Disagreements Professionally

Successful employees understand that conflict is part of growth. Not everyone is going to be on board with a specific change in policy or a certain innovative idea. But that doesn’t mean a disagreement between colleagues should escalate into a screaming match. Those who get frazzled when others disagree with them come off as insecure and unable to handle criticism. On the other hand, those who can calmly react to opposition exhibit surety in their ideas, and confidence in their ability to make others see things from their perspective.

4. They Don't Let Toxic People Affect Them

Every industry has its naysayers; there’s no avoiding that. What is avoidable is the way in which you react to their venomous jabs and comments. Those who pay too much attention to the negative people surrounding them will ultimately be brought down to their level, and will fail to reach their true potential. On the other hand, exceptional employees are able ignore toxic colleagues’ scathing remarks, and instead focus on the people around them who help build them up to be the best they can be.

5. They Exhibit Grace Under Pressure

Earlier, I spoke about how some workers tend to get frazzled easily. Exceptional employees simply don’t let nerves get the best of them. In fact, these are the “go-to” people when a company is facing a sticky situation and needs immediate help. While everyone around them scrambles to pick up the pieces, the best employees are able to tune out all external noise and focus on righting the ship.

6. They Ask Questions

Nobody knows everything, and successful people understand that thoroughly. They ascribe to the old adage that there’s no such thing as a stupid question, except those that don’t get asked. If they don’t understand something their supervisor or colleague says during a meeting, they feel no shame in asking for clarification (especially knowing that many others probably had the same question but were too afraid to be singled out). By continually probing for more information at all times, exceptional employees ensure they are always moving in the right direction, and their efforts are never wasted on a Sisyphean task that ends up going nowhere.

7. They Don't Ignore Problems

Problems don’t go away, and successful people know that. They understand that ignoring a problem is only going to create much larger issues in the future, so they face every issue they come to head on. In fact, although they would obviously be happy with plans going as expected, exceptional workers see problems simply as new challenges to overcome. Not only that, but they also view these challenges as learning experiences. Because of this, each time they face a problem or issue, they emerge having gained knowledge that will make similar issues much easier to deal with in the future.

8. They Hold Themselves Accountable

In much the same way as they don’t ignore issues and problems they encounter, successful people hold themselves to an incredibly high standard, and will never shy away from admitting they made a mistake. They understand that everyone makes mistakes, but those who don’t learn from their misstep will go on to make the same mistake over and over again. On the other hand, by acknowledging their slipup, successful people take ownership of not only their mistake, but of the fact that they have room for growth. Once they acknowledge that they aren’t perfect, they’ll be able to focus on strengthening their weak points, becoming a better all-around worker.

9. They Make Themselves Visible

Successful people know how to get noticed. But they aren’t the ones constantly pointing out all the great things they did. Instead, they let their work speak for itself. By remaining humble, they show that their efforts are “all in a day’s work.” This attitude shows that they are always willing to do whatever it takes to experience success, and while they’ll never downplay their efforts, they don’t expect extravagant praise for doing their best work.

10. They Keep Their Ego in Check

This goes along with the last point, but takes it a step further. The best workers hear from others what a great job they’ve been doing, but they never let it go to their head. They never think they’re better than anyone else, because they know the truth is they simply work harder. They believe everyone has the potential to accomplish great things as long as they’re willing to put 100 percent of their energy into everything they do. By thinking this way, not only do they ensure that they’ll keep pushing forward to bigger and better things, but they also help hold other people up along the way.

See Also: 8 Workplace Superheroes: Which One Are You?

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Everyone on Earth has natural talent and abilities in one form or another. Unfortunately, many of us are content with being an average person with an average job and average life. It’s those who continuously strive for greatness that end up accomplishing big things. The only difference between these people and the middle-of-the-road worker is the effort they put into every aspect of their life.




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