STAND OUT, TAKE INITIATIVE
“As organizations grow increasingly complex and unpredictable, the topic of proactivity at work has become of great importance for contemporary workplaces. Proactivity drives performance and innovation of teams and organizations and boosts individuals’ well-being and careers. When individuals are proactive, they use their initiative at work to bring about a better future. They scan for opportunities, persist until change is achieved, and take charge to prevent problems’ future reoccurrence.”- K. Parker, Productivity at work.
So why does it feel like today’s generation is lacking in the spirit of taking responsibility? Could it possibly have something to do with the direction from leadership? On this subject, Craig Impleman comments, “On the second tier of the Pyramid of Success is initiative, a valuable character trait of a leader, and an essential quality for any team if they are going to perform near to their capability. A great leader not only has initiative as an individual character trait, but also coaches his or her team or organization in a manner that creates and encourages initiative from all team members. A great leader creates new leaders.
John Wooden was an American basketball player and a head coach at UCLA. He built the model for consistently great leadership. Coach Wooden described the importance of giving his players the ability to take initiative:“Do not tie them down so rigidly that you take away their initiative. They must have some freedom of movement, but must react to the initiative of a teammate in order to keep floor balance.“Give players the opportunity to achieve without the fear of failure.”The communication style of the leader will either encourage or discourage initiative by the people he or she supervises.
It is very true that teamwork makes the dream work but there is a necessary role that must be played by each team player to make every dream a reality, to make any project a success and to achieve the best outcome. Sometimes as team players, we shoot ourselves in the foot by waiting for others to take the lead before we take action. Even in our personal relationships, we rely on the other party to take up the responsibility because we may assume that we are not to blame for a fix we may find ourselves in. “Your success is your responsibility. Take the initiative, do the work, and persist to the end.” ― Lorii Myers
Researchers Michael Frese and Doris Fay define initiative as “work behavior characterized by its self-starting nature, its proactive approach, and by being persistent in overcoming difficulties that arise in pursuit of a goal.”When you show initiative, you do things without being told; you find out what you need to know; you keep going when things get tough; and you spot and take advantage of opportunities that others pass by. You act, instead of reacting, at work.
The world of work is not a very patient scene and almost at every point in time, we must be ready to take initiative and take up responsibility. Being proactive demands that we are meticulous in our dealings and poised to take up bold steps. In a Deloitte article, Business Technology Analyst, Leyla Beriker shares some tips on how to be proactive and take initiative in the workplace:
- Try to take on different roles
Do not assume they already hired someone else for that new project or task that interests you. Chances are you do not need a Masters and a PHD for tasks outside your assigned work. If you ask for additional responsibility there’s a good chance you will receive it.
- Ask for feedback and act on it
Not only will you improve yourself, but your managers and co-workers will have a new standard to benchmark your growth and progress against.
- Make an effort to listen to discussions around you
Do this even if they are irrelevant to your work. This is a great way to learn about new opportunities you could capitalize on.
- Do not underestimate the power of small-talk
There are many interesting and motivated people around you and there is always a lot to learn from them. Take advantage of this and watch your skills build.
- Foresee potential obstacles and bring them up to your teammates
This will help you and your team prevent problems, and it will help you build your team work skills.
- Do not be shy to ask questions
If you want to take initiative, the only option is to ask questions and understand how things work. It is more effective to learn from others who have been in your shoes before than to try and go it alone.
- Do not take comments and suggestions personally
Your manager or co-worker isn’t questioning your capabilities, they’re providing you with constructive feedback that help you reach your potential. Learn to love feedback as it’s the key to improving.
- Have a positive outlook
Complaining is far from constructive if you believe a process or method needs to change. With a positive attitude you can work towards the change, and make an impact.
The world revolves around problem solvers and game changers and in the face of adversity and challenges, taking up responsibility gives you an opportunity to showcase your value. No one will see or understand what you have to bring to the table until you demonstrate the ability to take initiative and find solutions to challenges. Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” “All of us can think of many times when the leaders we admired declined to wait for help and instead pioneered solutions. It’s only when we, as individuals, take full responsibility for a problem that we focus our full attention on it and feel the pressure we need to drive results” – (Coleman.J, 2012).
The key impact of being change-makers or problem-solvers is that we do not only find solutions for ourselves, we find solutions that can help others. In 2004, Leidich, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. According to Entrepreneur.com, shortly after starting treatment, an herbalist advised her to start a raw food diet, but when she did, she found that most of the products were unappetizing. So she made her own. Soon friends and family were requesting so many of her products that she could no longer give them away. By 2006, she was making products for sale, and in 2010, Two Moms in the Raw had revenues of more than $1 million. Leidich saw that there was not a good solution for someone cooking for a healthy, appetizing, raw food snack, so she took responsibility for making one, and in the process, created something that may help thousands of others in the process.
“If there is a trait which does characterize leaders it is opportunism. Successful people are very often those who steadfastly refuse to be daunted by disadvantage and have the ability to turn disadvantage to good effect. They are people who seize opportunity and take risks. Leadership then seems to be a matter of personality and character.” — John Viney
The first key step to seizing opportunities andtaking initiative as a team player, a leader or a spouse in a relationship is to:
- Be Responsible
Many of us think that being responsible simply means obeying the cultural norms that society has taught us. Being responsible means having an obligation to do something. So as you enter the work place or interact with your partner, you must be sensitive to what is happening around you that concerns not only you but others also. Being responsible means that you diligently and consistently work on everything and anything assigned to you. And beyond that, you look out for opportunities to go above and beyond your normal duties or obligations. To coin this differently, you must be proactive.
- Speak Out, Speak Loud
Not everyone sees what you see. Not everyone sees things from your perspective. So, sharing your ideas with colleagues and superiors equally qualifies as taking initiative. Pointing out certain loopholes will bring everyone’s mind to the challenges and then you can work as a team to provide solutions.
- Do the difficult things
In any organization, department or team, there are usually some specific activities or tasks that most people shun from doing. When you have some downtime at work, you can make an effort to quietly complete one of these kinds of projects. Not only do you learn how to do new things, you may discover new interests that would not have come to light any other way. Additionally, be willing to step into roles that everyone avoids. Such roles may be leadership roles or the “less important” roles. Every arm in a project is important, otherwise it would never be considered in the first place. Make sure you do it well and shine brightly in your corner.
Success depends in a very large measure upon individual initiative and exertion, and cannot be achieved except by a dint of hard work.” ― Anna Pavlova
Are you ready for TRANSFORMATION?
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: The H.E.L.P. Coach
Dzigbordi K. Dosoo is a Personal Impact, Professional Growth and Influence Expert specializing in Humanness, Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Power – H.E.L.P.
A career spanning over two decades, she has established herself as a Certified High Performance Coach, Speaker, Author, Wellness Expert and award-winning Entrepreneur with a clientele ranging from C-Suite Executives, Senior Management, Practitioners and Sales Leaders spanning 3 continents.
She is the Founder of Dzigbordi K. Dosoo (DKD) Holdings; a premier lifestyle business group with brand subsidiaries that include Dzigbordi Consulting Group& Allure Africa.
She is one of the most decorated female entrepreneurs in Ghana having being named “CIMG Marketing Woman of the Year” in 2009; “Top 10 most respected CEOs in Ghana, 2012; Global Heart of Leadership Award and, Women Rising “100 Most Influential Ghanaian Women”, 2017. She has also been featured on CNN.
She can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org and @dzigbordi across all social media platforms.