3 Ways to Capitalize on Your Genius at Work

The business world can be a rough place for people who don’t fit the mold. Companies sometimes fall into the mistake of rewarding “corporate mediocrity,” valuing employees who show up, do their jobs, and don’t make waves. Instead of trying to fit into the cookie-cutter mold, workers with ideas, passion, and innovation can use their differences to everybody’s benefit in three ways.

Dave Logan at CBS MoneyWatch believes the time is right for hiring managers to lose their fear of creative employees who can devise ways of improving the business. Here’s how you can show brave business owners the value of your unique perspective.

1. See your passion for what you do as a good thing.

When possible, find a job doing what you love.

Don’t be afraid to show sincere passion for the work in a job interview. Some hiring managers may be afraid of your intensity, but you probably wouldn’t enjoy working for people who feel like that, anyway.

Instead of trying to conform in an interview, be honest about who you are and how you feel. Logan discusses Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, when another company hired him as a young employee. The intensity and passion were present back then; those who hired him enjoyed great benefit until Jobs struck out on his own.

2. Offer creative ideas when you have them.

Do your job and do it well, but be willing to politely and appropriately express it when you think of a possible improvement. Those above you might notice your creative thinking and appreciate that you seem to be concerned and thinking about the welfare of the company.

Part of offering ideas is being willing to take “no” for an answer. Show your creativity and genius, but also show diplomacy and emotional maturity.

3. Play well with others.

Companies that hire innovative people may well want to put them together in teams to see what they come up with. In order to succeed as a group member, you have to utilize social skills. The qualities needed to succeed as a team are different from the qualities that put you on the team in the first place.

When co-workers have ideas, listen. If you disagree, be polite and let the co-worker finish speaking. At that point you may discuss how or why you disagree, but don’t let it get personal. If you start to feel competitive against your team members, you won’t be as valuable on the team.

The best think tanks are safe places to throw all sorts of ideas on the table and discuss the merits and pitfalls of each one. Teams that work well together focus on cooperation, collaboration, and mutual respect.

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