I am looking for synonyms as single words having the meaning of 'being one step ahead of others'.
Pacesetter is a common term for someone who is in the position you describe.
pace·set·ter noun \ˈpās-ˌse-tər\ : a person who runs ahead of the other runners in a race in order to set a pace
as in, a company that has been a pacesetter in its field for offering health care benefits to employees
"Innovator" (or "innovative"), "pioneering", "scout", "trailblazer", "vanguard", or "visionary", depending upon usage.
One such description is frontrunner — or frontrunning, if you prefer the adjectival form.
You could say be a notch above the others and be superior (to others).
notch above (someone or something) and a notch better (than someone or something): a little higher in quality than someone or something
superior: of high or higher quality; great or greater in amount, number, or degree; better than other people
be one step ahead : to be slightly better prepared or more successful than someone else (usually + of) Source
Advanced suggests the meaning you are looking for:
being at a higher level than others.
I also suggest the useful expression: to be a cut above something or somebody:
to be better than other things or people: he is so smart that he is always a cut above all his friends. Our new luxury apartments are a cut above the rest.
Also consider the phrase early adopter, which means:
A person who begins using a product or service at or around the time it becomes available.
The phrase early adopter sometimes is used to describe people who are ahead of the curve. Ahead of the curve is an idiom for “Changing before competitors” or “in the forefront of change”.
Another related phrase is “on the bleeding edge”, which means using “Something very current or modern, where there may actually be a hazard or risk in using it”.
Greed. People who have to be ahead of others have an inadequate personal self concept and are not content just being themselves--so they greddily seek more attention from others
Prescient is what came to my mind immediately.
Having or showing knowledge of events before they take place: a prescient warning
protected by Community♦ May 3 '15 at 18:21
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