Judges on U.S. TV show the X-Factor: (L-R) Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger.

Story highlights

The most successful companies and people have a unique "X-Factor" says business school professor

"People around you often see the potential you do not," he says

Know yourself and be yourself to unleash your X-Factor, says one recruitment consultant

CNN  — 

What’s your X-Factor? It’s an unlikely question to get at your next job interview, but it may be just what the recruiter is looking for.

“The most successful companies and people of today are those who manage to tap into their X-Factor, their uniqueness; that skill or quality that makes them special,” says Copenhagen Business School professor Flemming Poulfelt.

In his latest book, “Return on Strategy: How to Achieve it” Poulfelt and his co-authors examine how companies can reap maximum benefit by using their unique X-Factor as a strategy.

“We question the typical recipe game – the notion that there is one formula for success such as put out by traditional management research,” says Poulfelt.

On the contrary, he says the X-Factor universe is populated by mold breakers like Apple, Google and Ryan Air, who have what it takes to stand out in an increasingly global and competitive environment. “They think differently and they operate outside the box,” he says.

The idea of an X-Factor as the winning gene is as true for people as it is for businesses, says Poulfelt, noting individuals like Mozart, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates – who all managed to tap into a unique skill or quality to stand out from the crowd.

See also: Realize your potential, ‘dare to be different’

Peter Hills, owner of the UK-based recruitment company Untapped Potential, agrees, saying more companies are looking for that unique aspect in their employees.

“Most of the companies that are breaking ground and moving forward are doing it because they are managing to engage their employees and get their ideas,” says Hills.

“If you ask 12 people in a room to do a two-minute introduction, what will happen is that whoever goes first sets the pace. If you start talking about family first, everyone else will do that. But then there is that person who goes to the front and says, ‘I’m going to talk about something different.’ That eccentric nature may well be an X-Factor.”

Experts agree that some of the common qualities these people and companies exhibit – such as creativity, innovation, and out of the box thinking – are more important then ever. But having the X-Factor does not necessarily require you to step to the front of the room. The X-Factor is indefinable, uniquely your own, and according to Hills, something we all have.

So, here is some expert advice on how you can ensure your X-Factor sees the light of day.