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Why Is The “Achievement Orientation” Competency So Important?

Achievement orientation is almost universally identified as one of the two most important predictors of success in complex, sophisticated organizations. Other terms that are often used for this competency include results ‘‘orientation,’’ ‘‘taking initiative,’’ and ‘‘entrepreneurship.’’

How do you know achievement orientation when you see it? Here are some behavioral indicators.

Achievement Orientation Checklist

Sets challenging goals for self and others. ‘‘Challenging goals’’ is a term consistently tossed around. But what is a ‘‘challenging’’ goal? It’s not just doing the job more cheaply, faster, better. The operational definition is that a truly challenging goal is one where the goal-setter recognizes that there’s only a fifty-fifty chance of achieving the target. A challenging goal is a real stretch—it’s not a gimme.

Takes sustained action in the face of obstacles or adversity. We all encounter obstacles. A person with a high drive for results or achievement orientation will keep getting back up even after life has knocked her down a couple of times.

Does more than asked. Going beyond the call of duty is one of the leading indicators of a high degree of achievement orientation. The person with a strong results-focus looks for opportunities to do extra work to help others and to make a project move along more quickly.

Looks for places where problems might arise and fixes them. Achievement orientation doesn’t mean merely solving problems. It means actively looking for places where problems might arise and taking action before the problems occur.

Actively seeks out interesting projects to work on when the current assignment is completed. Even in the midst of a challenging and demanding assignment, the individual with a high achievement orientation actively scouts out the next assignment.