A culture comprised of unique “one-of-a-kinders” is one that creates sustainable competitive advantage and unmatched performance in the market for the organization fortunate enough to possess it.
This type of culture is nurtured one person at a time.
“There is only one” is the answer every person in this environment wants to hear when a decision maker in the organization asks a question about who should be the logical choice for something – a vacant position to fill, a lateral move opportunity for the manager with the highest leadership potential, a team leader required to take a new product to market or the individual who should attend an executive training course.
They want the choice to be crystal clear; they, personally, want to be the answer.
What do these individuals do to make themselves “the only one”?
First of all, they done get to that position through serendipity; it doesn’t just happen; it’s not a fluke.
They achieve this exalted position by creating and successfully executing a strategy to be different from everyone else in a relevant way in their area of specialty.
These 6 actions are crucial to their strategy.
1. They understand their internal competition at a deep level, and understands how each competitor approaches a task or assignment. They study their approach to solving problems and how they go about seeking approval for what they’ve done.
With this baseline of information they are in an excellent position to look for opportunities to approach their job in a way others don’t, and be noticed as someone special.
2. They have mentors who have excelled in getting things done in the trenches. They have a powerful brand among their peers as someone who is motivated to continually “try stuff” until they eventually land on a winner.
Executing gains more currency and credibility in an organization than intellectualizing and assessing the most appropriate course of action to take.
3. They question “We’ve always done things this way”. “Only ones” never assume the past is particularly relevant to moving forward in uncertain and unpredictable times.
They constantly advocate assessing current projects and activities to ensure they continue to be relevant to the direction of the organization, and are quick to put up their hand to say “cut the crap” if they’re not.
4. They are contrarian by nature whose natural inclination is to ask “What if we did it in exactly the opposite way?” and see what result can be achieved.
Looking for opportunities to disrupt the current momentum is foremost in their mind; it is involuntary response and governs everything they do. They are always on the lookout for a way to add their personal twist.
5. They are not big fans of benchmarking and following best practices; they understand they can’t be the only one if you rely on copying others as their modus operandi.
6. They have their sights on their next move. They know exactly what position they want and when they would like the opportunity to get it. This targeting is critical in terms of positioning and the priority of the issues to engage in.
If, for example, one covets the Director Marketing role, executing “only one” tactics are more productively applied to marketing, sales and business strategy projects.
Truly successful cultures are built from individuals who constantly seek ways to differentiate themselves from one another; the result of this “only” activity is an incredible mosaic of creativity, spontaneity, risk taking and unmatched performance in the marketplace.
Roy Osing is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.
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