Tanveer Naseer

Leadership Coach, Speaker, and Writer

3 Ways Remarkable Leaders Get Noticed

The following is a guest post by Joel A. Garfinkle.

Being a good leader — or even a great leader — is just not enough if you want to keep moving up in your career. You must be so remarkable that no one can help but notice you. You must do great things — not once or twice, but continuously — in order to stand out, get noticed, and propel yourself to the top of your company.

Three great ways to stand out are by creating new products, solving difficult problems, and actively seeking out opportunities to do something truly remarkable.

1. Create a new product
You can find ideas for new products all over the place, but one of the best ways is to listen to your customers. What do they want that you don’t sell? Is there already a product on the market that will meet their needs? If not, you may have an opportunity to create a revolutionary new product that will fill this gap and satisfy an existing demand.

There are new products being released constantly, so you need something that is either completely different from what is currently available or a huge improvement. You won’t stand out by making minor changes. You need something that people will get excited about and tell their friends about — something that is different enough to create a stir in the marketplace.

That doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be difficult or expensive, though. Take the Starbucks Frappuccino, for example. It was a new drink that got people talking and eventually brought in hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. This drink wasn’t invented in a product development lab at Starbucks headquarters; it was the creation of an assistant store manager who took the initiative to experiment and come up with something new and different — and it ended up being a big hit.

2. Come up with innovative solutions for difficult problems
Declining property values in Genesee County, Michigan meant less revenue from property taxes for the Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission. Faced with the prospect of having to cut back on staffing to make up for the budget shortfall, director Amy McMillan asked her staff to come up with as many $10 ideas to cut costs as they could. As a result of implementing these $10 ideas, the Parks Commission was able to save $167,000 — enough to avoid making staffing cuts. Amy McMillan solved a $167,000 problem by attacking it $10 at a time.

Every large organization has challenges to overcome. What problems is your company facing right now? There is no reason you can’t be the one to find the solution. You don’t have to be an executive or even a manager to be a problem-solver. You just have to have great ideas and find someone in the company who is willing to listen and has enough authority to take action.

When you consistently come up with innovative solutions to the company’s problems, you’ll gain visibility with the top executives, which can open up career advancement opportunities and help propel you into a top management position.

3. Listening for Opportunities
You’d be amazed at the opportunities you can uncover if you just listen. Pay attention to what your colleagues, bosses, and customers are saying and when you hear something unusual, creative, or even outrageous, think about how you can act on it to create an opportunity to make yourself stand out as the remarkable employee you are.

Katie Dix is a great example of someone who is constantly searching for opportunities. The owner of Capannari’s Ice Cream in Mt. Prospect, IL, she jumped at the chance to make an 18-scoop ice cream cone for Katherine Reutter, Olympic silver medalist in speed skating. Reutter had been quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying that she’d be walking into the Closing Ceremony with an 18-scoop ice cream cone. Katie Dix made it happen.

Once you start listening for ideas, you’ll find them all over the place. Next time someone says, “Too bad we can’t,” you should be thinking of ways that you can. Approach every problem with the mindset that there is a solution, and it is up to you to find it. Permanently replace the words “I can’t” with “How can I” and you’ll be amazed at the things you can do. Be truly remarkable, and you’ll find yourself moving up the career ladder faster than you ever could have imagined.

Joel A. Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 coaches in the U.S., having worked with many of the world’s leading companies, including Oracle, Google, Amazon, Deloitte, Ritz-Carlton, Gap, Bank of America and Starbucks.

He has written seven books, including Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level, as well as over 300 articles on leadership, team-building, executive presence, and getting ahead at work. Joel is regularly featured in the national media, including ABC News, NPR, the New York Times, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek.

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13 Comments » | Tags: , , , , , , , | December 20, 2011 by |

  1. On December 21st, 2011 at 7:09 AM Raj said:

    I'll give a better idea – Quit the job and execute that creative idea yourselves 🙂

  2. On December 21st, 2011 at 5:25 PM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Raj,

    The problem with that is that not everyone is willing or capable to go it alone in implementing an idea. There are times when collaborations with those who currently have the resources and talent pool is beneficial to ensuring your idea doesn't remain just that – an idea.

    Thanks Raj for sharing your thoughts on this piece.

  3. On December 22nd, 2011 at 10:33 PM Joel Garfinkle said:

    Hi Raj,

    If it could be that easy to just leave the job. It's not. People in today's economy are scared to leave. Thus, they need to make it work where they are working. Generating interest in new ideas is key in promoting yourself and sharing your talents. Thanks for the comment.

  4. On December 23rd, 2011 at 12:09 AM Carey Giudici said:

    This industrial-age solution would have been just as relevant 30 years ago; it assumes we're still facing a static marketplace, in which mass communications are the ideal. It overlooks our dynamic online audience's demands for faster choices, freedom to customize and individual expression. A business owner would be much better off following the business leadership tips presented in . and .

  5. On December 23rd, 2011 at 8:34 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Carey,

    I'm not sure how Joel's advice represents an "industrial-age solution" considering how the common theme throughout is piece is listening to your various 'shareholders' – namely, your customers, your employees, and those who fall outside of those categories.

    Not to mention the fact that for each of his points, he shares real-world, contemporary examples from companies which are far from being industrial-age dinosaurs, but forward-looking innovative and growing companies. That alone makes the points Joel shares especially valid for business leaders who want to understand how to address and meet the needs of the "dynamic" onlne audience you speak of.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this piece, Carey.

  6. On December 24th, 2011 at 11:35 AM Joel Garfinkle said:

    HI Carey,

    Thanks for your reply. The dynamic online audience is an excellent place to create "innovative solutions" – point #2. Thinking differently and finding ways to engage through social media can support ideas people haven't done before.

  7. On December 23rd, 2011 at 1:14 AM davidbritt76 said:

    It's true Joel, with the economy we have today. It's not easy to quit to job, much better is to have extra job that can support your needs.

  8. On December 24th, 2011 at 11:36 AM Joel Garfinkle said:

    Hi David,

    thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate what you have shared.

  9. On December 23rd, 2011 at 3:28 AM Jim Matorin said:

    Tanveer: There appears to be one common thread among your three bullet points – listen. I pride myself on my listening skills, but after reading this post, I plan on taking my listening skills up to the next level in 2012. A byproduct to me for being a good listener is to ask good questions. By asking good questions in 2012 I will be in better position to innovate as it relates to offering a new service or just spotting a new opportunity that I can lend my existing services to. I might also be in better position to develop a widget. I always wanted a widget.

    Joel: It is never easy to leave a job regardless of the current economy to start a new business concept. Takes ____ and commitment. You can fill in the blank. But it is easier to start a new biz if you get fired from a job 🙂

  10. On December 23rd, 2011 at 8:41 AM Tanveer Naseer said:

    Hi Jim,

    You nailed it right on the head. In each point Joel shares in his piece, it's clear that a key factor to implementation is the art of listening and inquiry. That we don't simply seek out information to confirm our biases, but to challenge our assumptions so that we can in fact anticipate the best route to take towards reaching our shared goals.

    As for a widget, based on your last blog post, I would've thought you'd be interested in developing an app instead. 😉

    Seriously, though, thanks again Jim for sharing your thoughts and for noticing this important theme found throughout Joel's piece.

  11. On December 24th, 2011 at 11:41 AM Joel Garfinkle said:

    Hi Jim,

    I've seen too many clients who lose a job and that STIMULATES the motivation necessary to start a new business. With motivations comes the energy and commitment to create a dream business.

    Excellent point about listening. I'm glad you've outlined your goals for 2012. After listening and asking questions make sure you move into a pro-active stance and go after the new service, ideas or opportunities.

  12. On December 23rd, 2011 at 3:34 AM Raj said:

    @Joel: Frankly speaking, in the so called big companies I have worked till now, people have safe careers as long as they are dumb and don't innovate. If they show the slightest sense of innovation/ capabilities, they are very much under the threat of losing their job!

  13. On December 24th, 2011 at 11:46 AM Joel Garfinkle said:

    Hi Raj,

    Yes, what you say is true to a point. I've also seen over and over again how people just do enough to keep a job. However, ultimately they will be either let go or others will constantly pass them by with promotions. You have to innovate, stand out, get noticed and become known for something. If you do, you create job security and success. You become in control of your career and that is the ultimate advantage you want.

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