hile everyone brings capability and intelligence to their jobs , much like a card game , some people seem to play their hand better than others . These people develop a reputation as the impact players within an organization . Managers know who these top players are and they understand their worth . Leaders come to depend on them and give them a steady stream of high-profile assignments and new opportunities . Their peers know who they are as well . Everyone seems to understand the value they contribute and can see the positive influence of their work , and these people seem to move through their careers with impact and purpose .
I have been privileged to work with many of these superstars in my years as a corporate executive , and I ’ ve witnessed their impact on teams and across the entire organization . I ’ ve also seen how the impact of their work creates a more meaningful and fulfilling work experience for them . Yet , I ’ ve also noticed smart , talented people playing below their potential . It ’ s hard to watch good people standing on the sidelines when you know they could be hitting home runs and winning championships .
Most people have seen this dynamic — two similarly capable individuals , both with talent and drive , but whose work is having a markedly different level of impact — but not everyone understands what causes this difference . You might have even found yourself in one of these positions and wondered about the mindset and behaviors that set two equally capable people apart .
Corporate leaders sense it but often can ’ t articulate it . They usually know who the superstars are and want more of them , but they struggle to explain what actually makes those contributors different . Typically they can articulate the more pronounced differences between their top and low performers ; however , when it comes to their most influential , impactful players , the top of the top , there seems to be an ineffable quality about them . There is a certain je ne sais quoi in how they approach their jobs and an art form to the way they contribute .
Corporate HR and talent development professionals have tried to capture , understand and communicate these differences with a variety of tools , for example : performance management systems meant to stratify employees into performance categories and provide feedback to help people improve , competency models to define critical skills for success , statements of corporate values that prescribe the valued behavior . Yet most of these corporate values statements are too abstract to capture the nuance between behavior that is acceptable verses truly impactful . On the other hand , the competency models tend to be too detailed ; after all , few of us can remember these dozens of critical skills and behaviors , let alone develop the skills before they become antiquated . These