How is it that some people just shoot upwards through a hierarchy almost at the speed of light while others flounder in low-level jobs for years? Answer: they mastered the art of becoming a shooting star.

You can too.

Below is a list of critical mechanisms you would need to master and implement, to be considered a shooting star.

  • When given an assignment or assigned to a project or a team, do your job extremely well. You want to rack up consistent “Exceeds” performance ratings on your bi-annual and annual job appraisals.
  • Always innovate, even if it is a small one, and be certain the innovation is comprehensible to all other parties, especially management who may not be as savvy as you are.
  • Discover the unexpected, something that makes management think, “It’s a good thing we put him, or her, on that task, else, we likely would never have discovered that.”
  • Be more effective with resources than others would have been. Almost always aim to come in under budget and ahead of schedule. Whenever possible use fewer resources than originally planned. Be the low-cost, high-quality, superior-output person. If leading a team, apply this to the team and coach the team toward these same parameters.
  • Step up to challenges that are somewhat risky. However, respect the adage: don’t gamble. My very first management job was filled with huge risks, and the P & L was in such terrible shape that even my new V.P. suggest I not consider the department failure to be my fault. I was the only person in the company to put my name forward and to insist that I could do the job. Instead of failing, my team and I succeeded spectacularly. The experience became a very successful turnaround and with it my team saved a division that became one of the most profitable.
  • Whenever you are called upon, find a way to enhance the overall worth of the effort as a result of you being involved. As an example, when I was recruited to the 6-Sigma, (corporate analysis and statistical improvement) team, I was the only one to remodel, restructure, and increase the efficiency of the tools used within the program, a productivity improvement that benefited thousands of employees and the company itself.
  • Be actively hunting for jobs that you can take on. That may be assignments or jobs themselves. Don’t be afraid to step up, as I did, as mentioned two points above.
  • You can only go so far on your own. You must have a strong eco-system. [Use the search box for “Networking”, “Mentor”, and “Eco-System”]
  • Raise up others. Help give them public recognition. Help them to deal with a difficulty they may be experiencing. Speak well of everyone. Contribute constructively to meetings and other events. Help organise events or meetings when others are swamped.
  • Position yourself to win favours and to be owed favours from all levels of the hierarchy.
  • When things are confusing to other people, try to sort it out. Help settle debates, not by taking sides, but by clarifying what people are trying to say.
  • Balance negatives events by seeking the positive or the benefits that can be extracted, especially if corrective action is taken or if the experience or event is turned into a learning opportunity. This is a variation on the notion of regrouping and then re-attacking the problem from a different vantage point.
  • Become better known THROUGHOUT the entire company. Don’t restrict your exposure to your immediate boss and the people within your division. Think “outside that box” else you will remain boxed in for the rest of your career.
  • You’ve read in my other nuggets of the importance of continuing education, training, etc. When you are handed a new job or a new project, seek out any unique training opportunities that might come with that. If there are association seminars or association-sponsored courses, get involved to learn more. Here’s how this works. When I was promoted to another division, I was quick to enrol in an international training course designed to teach our technicians, not to teach upper management like myself. I was the ONLY upper-level manager to have taken the entire program, shoulder-to-shoulder, with technicians. My reputation was enhance and spread further. I also learned a ton of stuff I would otherwise have not learned. That complemented my ability to manage throughout the years that followed.
  • Make your boss a shining star by working hard for him or her. If you are an ace worker who has a genuine and sincere interest in helping your boss succeed, and if you are a person who is always able to make progress in ways that make your boss look good, he or she will not want to share you with anyone else who may become his or her career competitor.