Just like successful cooking, the ingredients make all the difference. In any job, there is a recipe for success. The recipe for job success calls for having the right “ingredients” (your personal characteristics), and putting them together in the right way.

The ingredients for job success are these: Competence, Conscientiousness, Commitment, and a dash of Positive Politics.

Competence. Although this sounds obvious, being competent at your job is the foundation for success. That doesn’t mean you have to be an instant expert. Even novices can demonstrate competence befitting their level and experience. The key is to learn to master key work tasks as quickly as possible.

I often tell colleagues that “competence will win out.” Even in organizations that play favorites and/or reward mediocrity, competence will eventually prevail. Either the organization will recognize (and reward) your competence, or you will be successful elsewhere (in a company where they do value someone who can get the job done). [Don’t be afraid to quit your job if your competence is not valued.]

Conscientiousness. The second ingredient for success involves doing high-quality work, and following through. Pulling your weight, meeting deadlines, and being reliable are critical for job success. There is abundant research evidence that conscientious individuals make the best workers.

Commitment. Our third ingredient deals with motivation and a dedication to the team, organization, and profession. Being a good team player, and making sure that you can support the mission/objectives of the organization will lead to success.

We have all seen workers who simply don’t give a damn, and they drag the organization down. Make sure that your company’s goals and objectives are something you value and will work hard to achieve.  Hand-in-hand with commitment is character: Be committed to doing the right thing, and call your colleagues, your boss, or your organization out when they are headed down the wrong path.

Positive Politics. I’m not talking about self-serving political behavior, but understanding the natural politics that occur in organizations. Each company develops its own norms and rules, and quickly learning these, and playing by them, will make you a success. Figure out how the game is played at your company, and play it well. If you have competence, conscientiousness, and commitment behind you, rather than simply playing “empty politics,” you will succeed.

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