Lady Gaga and Cher both made the “A” list for the recent MTV Music Video Awards.  I confess to not following the action on MTV, but I have followed Cher since she was part of Sony and Cher.   Both ladies made newsworthy red carpet appearances because Lady Gaga was dressed in a gown made from “raw meat” and Cher recreated her 1989 “A” list appearance in an “If I Could Turn Back Time” era jumpsuit of see-through lace.

I am not an expert at what makes you qualified for the “A” list in Hollywood, but I do know some things that will get you on and keep you on the ”A” list in the corporate world. 

There are universal qualities that management looks for when they are accessing who’s a keeper and who is not.  And the good news is that you can learn to master these qualities.  So if you are young starlet or an industry icon, reviewing the list just might boost or save your career.  Here’s my corporate “A” list:  Ability, Agility, Awareness, Adaptability, and Ambition. 

ABILITY:  First, you need to demonstrate that you have the technical ability to do the job.  Managers are looking for people who are competent and who want to stay that way.  Star performers are life-long learners.  They seek out new knowledge, learn new skills and develop new abilities. 

AGILITY:  Next, your boss is looking for someone who can maneuver through the interpersonal and organizational maze that is unique to your company.  Your boss wants to know that you have the people skills to make things happen in the organizational.  In others words, do people in the organization like you, want to work with you, and are willing to do favors for you when needed? 

AWARENESS:   Research shows that the ability to understand your emotional intelligence is twice as important as mental IQ or technical skills for all levels of leadership. What really sets you apart is the extent that you know yourself.   This is the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives, as well as your emotional impact on other people.  Self-awareness means that your have a realistic assessment of your strengths and weaknesses.

ADAPTIBILITY: Being quick on your feet in the changing world of business is one form of adaptability. Quick thinking and action are often greatly rewarded.  But what will really set you up to be a star is the ability to adapt or learn from your successful and not so successful experiences.  Lessons learned are not just for your project report.  Real winners are able to learn from their circumstances and adapt their leadership style for future challenges. 

AMBITION:  You have to want to be a star.  Your boss is looking for you take charge, go where others are afraid to go, and pursue goals with energy and persistence. You can step it up by taking on assignments that others don’t want or taking on risk that others avoid.  However, ambition for the sake of just getting ahead is short lived.

A passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status is the best fuel for sustained advancement.  It pays to be doing something that you love.  A genuine strong drive to succeed is contagious and priceless.

So, how did you do?  Are you “A” list material?  If so…I’ll see you on the red carpet.

Linda K Sommer, MBA