What makes a person a “success” at work? Consider the person who seems to get promotions, is likeable and appears to have it all together. What makes that person stand out?

To answer this, I looked at the psychological research on workplace success. MacRae and Furnham at the University College of London identified six traits of a successful worker. They used those traits to create an inventory called the High Potential Inventory (HPTI). Take a moment and review these traits.  See how you measure up.

  • The conscientious worker: Conscience workers are dependable and get the job done. They are concerned about the well-being of others, look to make improvements, and always try to do their best. In addition, they tend to be punctual and self-disciplined.
  • The adaptable worker: This has to do with being flexible and adaptive when it comes to change. It involves a growth mindset -that ability to see, learn and pivot when necessary.  A person who can adjust to challenging situations keeps stress down as well.
  • The worker who can tolerate ambiguity. Rarely, have I worked in organizations in which roles and responsibilities were clear or set. More often, things were ambiguous and I was expected to roll with uncertainty. While I prefer predictability, that isn’t always the nature of the workplace. Sometimes, you have to be patient and wait for clarity. The better you tolerate ambiguity, the less you will stress.
  • Be a  curious worker: Of all the success traits, this one rings true on so many levels. Curious people ask questions, are life-long learners and work well on teams. They innovate and have more positive emotions. Curiosity isn’t a negative trait and doesn’t kill the cat. Rather it helps the cat live a better life.
  • Be a competitive worker. This success trait doesn’t come at the expense of others. It requires a positive motive. Use your competitive nature to motivate yourself to do better. Come up with new ideas and ways to improve your team or company. As you find a competitive edge, be mindful of others.
  • Be a courageous worker. This is a trait that doesn’t come easy if you are a conflict avoider. It takes courage to face difficult problems, give critical feedback and take risks. Examples of courage include admitting mistakes, giving credit to others or reporting someone who is unethical. Courage means you do the right thing for the right reasons.

I’m adding a final trait that is not part of the MacRae and Furnham research or inventory. I consider it the most important success trait. It involves living true to your faith. This means you don’t comprise your values to get ahead. You are not dishonest to avoid conflict or problems. You don’t do what is right in your own eyes. Instead you measure your life according to a higher standard. That standard involves how well you love and serve others. It involves how often you speak up for the cause of Christ, despite the costs.

Our instruction is -whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord. When you evaluate your workplace traits, are you living a life of integrity? Ultimately, what we do for Christ is what lasts! One day, our success will be measured according to His Word.

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