In his book, the Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, he discusses one of the great leadership characteristics that help people perform at very high levels. In the research he did, they found that music students who were good enough to be admitted to an elite school, were far more successful if they put in more work and practice than their peers in the same program. They found that it wasn’t about talent but rather how hard they were willing to work that distinguished the students from one another.
During my career at Whirlpool, I had hundreds of young adults who graduated from the training program and were later given sales jobs in my organization. We have each person a job description on what their role was, they received extensive training on how to carry out that role and they travelled with their managers who gave them ideas on how to be a top performer.
There were five or so key behaviors that helped a person be really good at their jobs, like a positive attitude, willingness to connect with customers, discipline on their daily schedules and the confidence to walk into stores and sell the Whirlpool program.
I know that is only four, the fifth one is a desire to be a top performer by working harder than everyone else. Did you ever have a test in college and you spent many extra hours studying for it, you did all the outside reading, you had several discussions with the professor on the subject, and you may have even had tutoring help. I think you know the outcome, normally this type of work ethic produces better grades.
It is the same in a job, the box you get that tells you there are five things you need to do to complete the task at hand and by doing those five things you will end up being rated like everyone on the team. It means you are average. But I would have kids come in a say I can do more than what is in that box, I can spend more hours learning the competition, understanding the marketing plans of a customer, working on my financial skills and becoming a great communicator.
When someone takes the job to the next level, she will rise rapidly in the group and be recognized consistently for outstanding levels of performance.