How to Be a Real MSL Star

Over the years I have met many MSLs who aspire to be stars at their companies. I also have met many MSLs who already think of themselves as stars.

As a former subjective insider and a current more objective outsider, I realized that being a true MSL Star is not only about accolades and recognition. As I think back of the colleagues whom I’ve admired and trusted, I realized that these true MSL Stars weren’t always the first to speak up or the most visible on the team.

True MSL Stars are those who:

KNOW WHEN TO LEAD AND WHEN TO FOLLOW. In my mind, a real MSL star knows that he doesn’t know everything, and supports team mates who take a lead based on their expertise. In the same vein, when he knows he is an expert and can contribute, he will not shy away from the visibility of leadership. The emotional intelligence comes into knowing “when” to step up and when to step aside.

TAKE THE LIAISON PART OF THEIR JOB TITLE SERIOUSLY. Many companies like to use their own fancy titles, but I hope they will keep the “liaison” part of the MSL job title. A real MSL star knows that she is most valuable for her ability to liaise – to connect people and process and opportunities. A hotshot scientist without an inkling of social skills will never be an effective liaison; she’d be better off aiming for the Nobel.

UNDERSTAND THAT MANAGERS ARE REALLY MESSENGERS. It’s a ripple down effect, really: the big bosses ask, “how do we know what the MSLs are doing is valuable?” All the stakeholders voice their opinions or consultants are called in. Then the managers have the lucky job of telling the MSLs what the stakeholders and consultants recommended that the executive team agreed with. A real MSL star knows that his manager has bosses who have bosses, and won’t take the messages personally, and at the same time, figures out a way to ethically does his job.

Hey, I never said being a Real MSL Star is easy.

What do you think makes a Real MSL Star?