Having initiative demonstrates a sense of self-drive, self-awareness, insight and personal motivation. The habit of taking initiative strengthens your personal brand. You can become a role model to others who would seek to emulate you.
But wait?! What does taking initiative mean? Taking initiative means going the extra mile or going above and beyond your normal job responsibilities to make things happen. Taking initiative means the ability to see something that needs to be done and deciding to do it out of your own free will without someone else telling you to do it.
One crucial skill that can serve you well in both your personal and professional life is the ability to show initiative at work. If you constantly wait to be told what to do, then you waited too long. The habit of initiative entails seeing something that needs to be done and either doing it or figuring out ways to do it.
The more you work on initiative, the easier it becomes. The key is finding ways to be resourceful and taking action or doing something before others do it or before you are told to do it. Taking initiative shows the hallmarks of a leader in the making.
Examples of initiative include: when you see others struggling reach out and offer help. When you see areas where your life is not going as well as you would like to and you decide to do something about it.
When you see bad decisions being made that could be disastrous and have courage to speak up and point the flaws rather than waiting for the bad thing to happen and then make statements such “I thought that wouldn’t work out well”.
Other ways of developing your initiative include learning to ask the right questions, probing questions which can bring to surface negative undercurrents that need to be addressed. Taking initiative helps to build and strengthen your decision making skills and analytical skills where you get to analyze pros and cons of different courses of action.
Here are ‘baby steps’ that can help you put together the big picture:
- Developing your initiative begins by knowing what you want to achieve in your career, what things you have to and are willing to do and how fast you want to achieve your career goals.
- Learn how things work and figure out efficient ways of working. Look for opportunities in problems.
- Persevere and be willing to start small. You don’t have to dive into a big project immediately; build your initiative muscles one step at a time.
- Observe colleagues who are masters at taking initiative. Talk to them, learn from them, work with them, learn their thinking processes and most importantly study how they execute ideas and accomplish goals.
- Practice speaking up and making your voice heard. You could start by contributing and participating actively in small group meetings then graduate slowly to larger groups.
- Let people get used to hearing your input. When you consistently offer good ideas, suggestions or recommendations, your opinions will be sought over time.
- Learn to be decisive. Become comfortable at making decisions rather than agonizing endlessly over decision making.
- Think long term. Study how different things are interrelated and connect the dots such as the interplay between individual annual goals and the strategic goals of the company.