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How To Be A Top Contributor In Tough Times

In these times - tough times by anyone's measure - it's important to be seen as a contributor - a person who makes a positive difference in the success of their enterprise. So what does it take to be a top contributor? We asked some of the most successful contributors we know. Read on to get their answers: ten Behaviors, Attitudes and Personal Skills of top contributors.

In these times - tough times by anyone's measure - it's important to be seen as a contributor - a person who makes a positive difference in the success of their enterprise.

But having said that, when is the last time you read an article, or a book, on how to be a contributor to any enterprise? Go in any bookstore and see the books on leadership - rows of them. No titles on being a contributor. And yet effective contribution results in most of the successes in any enterprise - just ask the leaders.

So what does it take to be a top contributor? We asked some of the most successful people we know. Here are their answers: ten Behaviors, Attitudes and Personal Skills of top contributors. We offer these ten answers as a self inventory. As you read through what top contribtors do, ask yourself where you see yourself.

1 - They do the work that's recognized as the most important work by their organization. They identify what is most important by creating mutually shared goals. The secret to effective contribution is doing the work that is most important - and ensuring that is where the focus is. None of the other nine items is even worth mentioning if the important work doesn't get done on time while meeting budget, performance, quality and other criteria. It's not a matter of accepting what needs to be done - that goes without saying. Do the important work and get the opportunity to be seen as a top contributor. This sounds so basic - but it's amazing how often it doesn't occur.

2 - They practice personal leadership through self discipline. Being on time; meeting commitments; knowing when and how to say no; focusing on work and letting the unimportant go; maintaining emotional control; are all behaviors of top contributors.

3 - They accept the culture for what it is and adapt to it - or get out. There is no bigger waste of time than trying to change what exists to meet personal expectations. Better to leave or accept the culture - as long as it doesn't require acting immorally, unethically, illegally or unsafely.

4 - It's not about you. Top contributors know personalizing decisions and thinking of them in terms of self is a great way to lose motivation and commitment. Let's face it, a lot of decisions will differ from what might be seen as optimal, but accepting decisions for what they are, not making them personal, and moving on to the next issue is top contributor behavior.

5 - Thet take pride in contribution. Top contributors are convinced of the importance of their work - if they weren't how could they possibly see the value of their accomplishments? It's like the story of the three bricklayers: when asked what they were doing, the first said he was laying brick; the second said he was helping build a school; and the third said he was participating in offering a better education to children through his best efforts. Which bricklayer best describes how you value your work?

6 - Be convinced that you have a gift to give - then give it. Top contributors don't ration their efforts. They focus, they operate at top speed, and they get more done than they realized they could. And the next time they're asked to climb that same mountain, it's not nearly as high as the first time. And they can look for more - whatever more means to them.

7 - They realize interdependence beats independence in accomplishing anything. Group effort can seem like a pain at the beginning, but a top contributor knows the pain comes before the gain. Focused effort by a group is so much more powerful than individual effort in almost all situations. Acquiring the Personal Skills to work effectively in collaborations is key to top contribution.

8 - They have high ideals, but maintain realistic expectations. Peter Senge - in The Fifth Discipline defines a cynic in this way : "Scratch a cynic and you will find an idealist, someone who made the mistake of letting their ideals become their expectations." Ideals are important - without them staying on course is impossible. But creating a failure scenario by making an ideal a goal is a sure recipe for frustration and a reduced sense of self worth.

9- Top contributors are fixers, not blamers. They know establishing accountability for things that go wrong is necessary for the future. But they are much more focused on solutions than on placing blame. They know solutions behavior promotes communication and learning while blame behavior promotes defensiveness and error avoidance.

10 - They use a combination of personal and organizational goals to frame their work and their lives. The closer the alignment between the different goal sets, the better. Top contributors know relying on organizational goals to establish self worth and value is very limiting. Organizational goals can change unexpectedly and often - particularly in tough times. Personal goals, on the other hand, provide a "True North" perspective on what is really important.

Take the time, right now, to carefully look at your own contributions - and what can be done to increase your personal impact in your personal and organizational life. Then decide which of the Behaviors, Attitudes and Personal Skills of top contributors will help you achieve the success you want. Then act to make them happen - and watch 2009, even in the midst of tough timesScience Articles, be the best of times.

Article Tags: Tough Times, Personal Skills, Most Important, Important Work, Organizational Goals

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Andy Cox helps individuals, teams and organizations identify and develop their Multipliers of Success - the unique set of Behaviors, Motivators and Personal Skills each client needs for success. Contact Andy at Visit his website for information on how he can help you discover and develop your Multipliers of Success. His website address is

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