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A Job Description is Just the Beginning

susan story

Susan Story is the chief executive of American Water, a public utility company operating in the United States and Canada. In a recent interview with Adam Bryant of the New York Times, Story opened up about her work philosophies that helped her achieve corporate success:

  • Every person deserves respect: “[N]o matter how bad things get, it’s about working hard and taking personal responsibility, because nobody owes you anything.”
  • In life and in work: “It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you react to it.”
  • A job description is just the beginning: “It’s about doing the job but also looking around for what’s not getting done that would bring value. When I would raise my hand, it was appreciated.”
  • Listening is key: “Listening on the front lines is one of the most important things I can do… If you really want to know what’s going on, you get out there and you listen to folks on the front lines.”
  • Focus on doing the best job you can where you are: “One thing I’ve done in my career is to never look at what the next job is going to be. I go in thinking this could be my last job, and I’m going to be the best I can at it.”

Click here to view the full article from the New York Times.

Always Take The Time To Listen

Listening

Listening is an important, and often poorly practiced, skill. It is so important that many top employers provide listening skills training for their employees. Seem surprising? Not really when you consider that good listening skills can lead to:

  • Better customer satisfaction;
  • Greater productivity;
  • Fewer mistakes; and
  • Increased sharing of information which can lead to more creative and innovative work.

Many successful entrepreneurs and leaders credit their success to their strong and effective listening skills. Richard Branson, for example, frequently quotes listening as one of the main factors behind his success with the Virgin brand. Bob Farrell, CEO of software development company “Kewill,” also stresses the importance of listening:

“I am just amazed at how often people don’t take the time to listen. All the technology we have has facilitated our ability to know about things and to be productive, but it does sometimes decrease our ability to listen and to be effective.”

Click here to view the New York Times article in full.