Standing Out In The Workplace: Traits Of Exceptional Employees

Manavi Agarwal

Last Updated: September 30, 2023
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Have you ever wondered what makes some employees shine in the workplace, while others seem to blend into the background? It’s a question that has intrigued managers, colleagues, and ambitious workers alike. The truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this puzzle. Instead, it takes in consideration a lot of qualities, behaviours, and attitudes that set top employees apart. However, let’s get one thing straight from the outset; there’s no cape-wearing superhero element here. Top employees aren’t blessed with innate superpowers. Instead, they’re ordinary individuals who have honed certain skills and cultivated specific qualities that propel them to the top of the workplace ladder. So get ready to uncover the secrets behind the success of top employees and discover how you can apply these insights to your own career journey.

Traits That Define Top Employees


The Art Of Positive Challenge

Top employees possess the remarkable ability to challenge the status quo in a positive and constructive manner. They understand that innovation often arises from questioning existing processes and suggesting improvements. What sets them apart is their finesse in doing so. They tactfully navigate these waters, ensuring their suggestions don’t create friction or resistance. Their forward-thinking approach not only keeps things fresh but also elevates team performance. By encouraging a culture where ideas are welcomed and valued, they create an environment that fosters continuous improvement and growth. A study by Deloitte found that 90% of executives believe that a culture of innovation is essential for business success.

‘No Agenda’ Networking

Networking is often viewed through a lens of personal gain, but top employees redefine it with ‘no agenda’ networking. They approach connections with a genuine desire to connect with others without immediate expectations of returns. By nurturing relationships based on authenticity and mutual respect, they often find unexpected opportunities and collaborations. Their ability to build bridges and create meaningful connections not only benefits them personally but also enriches the professional ecosystem they operate within.

Mindful Delegation

Delegation is common in the workplace, but top employees take it to a higher level with mindful delegation. They go beyond merely assigning tasks; they carefully consider the strengths, passions, and growth opportunities of their team members. This strategic approach ensures that tasks are allocated in a way that optimises team success. By recognising individual capabilities and fostering a sense of ownership, they create an environment where every team member can thrive, ultimately boosting overall team performance. A study by Harvard Business Review found that most managers believe that delegation is essential for their own success.

The Power Of Thoughtful Disconnection

In our hyper-connected world, top employees understand the value of thoughtful disconnection. They recognise that constant digital engagement can lead to burnout and reduced creativity. Therefore, they proactively schedule periodic breaks to disconnect, allowing themselves time to rejuvenate, reflect, and recharge their creative reservoirs. When they return to work, they do so with heightened productivity, fresh perspectives, and a renewed sense of purpose. This practice not only benefits their own well-being but also contributes to a healthier and more productive work environment.

Elevating Others

Top employees don’t just focus on their personal climb up the career ladder; they are also experts at elevating others. They take on mentorship and coaching roles, championing their peers’ growth and success. By sharing their knowledge, providing guidance, and creating opportunities for others, they help their colleagues reach new heights. This commitment to fostering a culture of shared success not only lifts individual team members but also contributes to a more collaborative and high-achieving workplace. A study by Gallup found that most employees are more likely to stay with a company that invests in their growth and development.

Curiosity Management

Curiosity is a powerful asset, but top employees take it a step further by mastering curiosity management. They understand that while curiosity drives exploration and innovation, it must be managed to avoid distraction. They strike a delicate balance between exploring new ideas and maintaining focused execution. This skill ensures that curiosity fuels progress, leading to meaningful discoveries and solutions while keeping the team on track toward its goals.

The Mastery Of ‘Thank You’

Beyond expressing gratitude, top employees truly master the art of saying ‘thank you.’ They go the extra mile by personalising their expressions of appreciation. They acknowledge and highlight individual contributions, making their colleagues feel genuinely valued and recognised. This practice not only boosts morale but also strengthens team bonds and fosters a culture of mutual respect and appreciation.  A study by Harvard Business School found that employees who are thanked regularly are more likely to be engaged and productive.

The Power Of Silent Influence


Silent influence is a subtle yet potent skill in the workplace, and top employees wield it effectively. They don’t always seek the spotlight to make an impact; instead, their actions, demeanour, and work ethic silently inspire and motivate others. Their consistent commitment to excellence sets a high standard that encourages their peers to strive for greatness. By leading through example, they create a culture of continuous improvement and dedication to excellence.

Resilience Reinvention

Resilience isn’t a static quality; it evolves over time. Top employees understand this and embrace the concept of resilience reinvention. They continuously adapt their coping strategies and resilience-building techniques to navigate new challenges and changing circumstances. By remaining flexible and open to new approaches, they not only survive adversity but also grow stronger from it. This resilience not only benefits them individually but also serves as a source of inspiration and support for their colleagues and teams.

Conflict Resolution

Top employees are masters of conflict resolution. They possess the ability to detect tension and potential conflicts before they escalate into larger issues. When conflicts do arise, they mediate with finesse, transforming disagreements into constructive dialogues. Through their adept conflict-resolution skills, they preserve team cohesion, maintain a positive work environment, and ensure that differences of opinion lead to creative solutions rather than discord. A study by the University of California, Berkeley found that teams with effective conflict resolution skills are more likely to be successful.

Taking Initiative

Top employees are proactive and take the initiative to identify and address issues or opportunities. They don’t wait for instructions but instead actively seek ways to contribute to the organisation’s success. Their self-motivation and willingness to go the extra mile set them apart as individuals who make a significant impact. Whether it’s proposing new projects, suggesting process improvements, or volunteering for challenging tasks, their initiative drives progress and innovation within the team and the company as a whole.

Mentoria: Your Path To Workplace Excellence


In today’s competitive job market, the qualities that set top employees apart have never been more critical. These exceptional individuals demonstrate a unique blend of skills, attitudes, and work ethics that make them indispensable to their organisations. From their unwavering commitment to personal growth and their ability to adapt to change, to their remarkable problem-solving skills and leadership qualities, top employees shine in numerous ways.

Mentoria understands the value of nurturing such qualities and helping individuals become exceptional employees. Our comprehensive career development programs are designed to empower you with the skills, insights, and confidence needed to stand out in the workplace. We offer personalised coaching and resources that focus on enhancing your professional and interpersonal skills, building leadership abilities, and fostering a growth mindset. With Mentoria’s guidance, you can unlock your full potential and become the top employee your organisation values.