What Does It Mean To Take Initiative At Work?

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What Does It Mean To Take Initiative

What Does It Mean To Take Initiative?

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.

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.

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.

The habit of taking initiative strengthens your personal brand. A person who takes initiative will be a role model to others.

You will chart a new path and try out a new way of doing things that could help improve your life and those of others.

How to Develop Your Initiative Muscles

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.

Ways to Have Initiative at Work

There are many ways and opportunities to take initiative at the workplace. Typical ways to demonstrate or show initiative at work include the following:

  • Seeking more responsibilities.
  • Tackling challenges/solving problems.
  • Training others/sharing knowledge.
  • Helping your coworkers.
  • Providing regular status updates.
  • Building strong working relationships with coworkers.
  • Doing things and projects that others avoid.
  • Volunteering to work with different teams and departments.
  • Stepping in when someone is unavailable or absent.
  • Being innovative/improving systems, processes and procedures.
  • Resolving interpersonal conflicts at work.
  • Offering to mentor others.
  • Volunteering for leadership roles.
  • Referring good potential employees.
  • Helping in the interviewing and hiring process.
  • Brainstorming ideas to improve the company.
  • Becoming a good team player.
  • Supporting your supervisor or manager efficiently.
  • Helping others to see their strengths and qualities.
  • Anticipating and preventing problems.
  • Dressing to succeed.
  • Sharing the credit.
  • Maintaining high quality standards.
  • Making good decisions and being decisive.
  • Doing quality control for finished projects.

Benefits of Taking Initiative

You should take initiative because it gives you visibility at work, you stand out, you get recognition, and it enhances your value and personal brand.

Taking initiative improves your potential for promotions and career growth.

More problems are solved at work, time is saved, resources are saved or utilized efficiently and processes are improved.

Taking initiative and trying different things, methods or processes can lead to breakthroughs.

Additionally relationships are strengthened when you help others resulting in stronger team dynamics.

It likewise creates independence, higher morale, bosses and supervisors are happy with your contributions, you become a role model for others, you stretch your critical thinking skills and challenge your problem solving skills.

Other benefits of taking initiative include strengthening your people skills, identifying synergies, removing redundancies and duplication in work and improving your self-confidence as you tackle things and obtain results.

Moreover, the habit of taking initiative adds to your personal happiness and job satisfaction.

Things to Consider Before Taking Initiative

In as much as taking initiative is to be praised, there are some caveats to take into account before diving into the depths of demonstrating your initiative.

The first item on the checklist is to ensure that you finish your normal tasks satisfactorily before taking on more work.

Your primarily responsibility is the job that you were hired to do. Efficiently handle what is on your plate first. Avoid overcommitting yourself.

The second item on the checklist is to know the limits of your authority. Before taking initiative on matters in a gray area, consult as appropriate.

Work with your boss on critical high profile initiatives or obtain your boss’ permission to proceed on your own. Do thorough research before changing things or proposing major changes.

Taking initiative also means taking risks. Assess your risk tolerance. Know that there is a potential to make mistakes and fail.

Don’t overpromise and under deliver – it affects your credibility. There could be situations where you need to own up and admit your mistakes when you fail. Have resilience and a good attitude.

Additionally your sincere initiative efforts and ideas could be ignored or unwelcome. Rein in your ego when you encounter rejection of your ideas, don’t take it personally. Keep your cool.

Have the ability to bounce back and keep on going with enthusiasm.

Don’t try to solve all the company’s problems at once. Likewise don’t try to do everything alone. Feel free to ask for help when you need it.

When you stick your neck out you can attract haters; people who won’t be happy by your progress. You can be taken advantage of by others and have extra work dumped on you.

You can encounter people who want to put you down for no reason. Be cautious of idea killers especially when idea is at infancy.

Don’t appear as a know it all – be a sponge, absorb, learn and soak up knowledge. Don’t brown nose. Practice being patient, change takes time.

Sometimes you will underestimate the effort involved in executing a task; this is part of the learning process. You will become better at estimating effort required over time and through practice.

At all times, take care of yourself, be well rested, take time to do a job well rather than hurrying up to finish the work, be open to other people’s viewpoints, be humble, and respect yourself and others.

How to Think Like an Owner of a Company

When you imagine yourself as the owner of a company, it can help stimulate your appetite for taking initiative.

A business owner is responsible for the success or failure of the company. This mindset requires thinking about all the moving pieces of the organization and ensuring proper alignment.

To think like an owner of a company, ask questions such as – how can this company go to the next level?

An owner thinks about the big picture and creates systems to make processes easier including automating tasks, delegating and even outsourcing some activities.

They also work on setting goals, taking responsibility and not making excuses or blaming others, keeping good records, treating customers like royalty, following up regularly with customers, taking risks, develop the brand and reputation and studying other successful business leaders.

Being decisive and not getting caught up in analysis paralysis, thinking of potential revenue generating ideas, how to grow the business, how to improve processes, how to save costs and where to get good employees.

A business owner similarly encourages staff, prioritizes work, networks, builds rapport and alliances, negotiates, sells, forecasts, innovates, studies business trends, looks for opportunities, manages, visualizes and plans.

Studies the competition, seeks mentors, makes presentations and pitches, improves processes, reduces expenses, works on customer satisfaction and learns from failure and mistakes.

How to Maintain Your Enthusiasm at Work

Your level of enthusiasm affects how much initiative you take and how self-motivated you are to go the extra mile.

Firstly, enthusiasm and love for what you do will take you further than when one is unenthusiastic about their work.

Granted everyone has good days and bad days at work, the key thing is to on balance strive to have more better days.

Enthusiasm is infectious; it can be transmitted from one person to another. It makes the work environment fun and stimulates creativity.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines enthusiasm as “strong excitement about something or a strong feeling of active interest in something that you like or enjoy.”

Maintaining enthusiasm takes effort. Routine at work can cause loss of enthusiasm. Without enthusiasm apathy and complacency can set in. This can lead to coasting or doing just enough to keep you going.

Boost your enthusiasm through talking to colleagues and cultivating healthy work relationships, attending industry events and conferences, interacting with customers, reading widely, getting mentors and learning new skills.

Similarly maintain your enthusiasm level through seeking feedback, setting mini challenges for yourself, organizing your work area and decorating it, reading motivational quotes and re-reading kudos or congratulatory notes from your boss or colleagues.

You can also listen to inspirational music.

Other ways of maintaining your enthusiasm include writing down your career goals, going outdoors and enjoying nature, taking a break and teaching others.

Watching inspiring videos, volunteering, complimenting and recognizing others when they do well and avoiding negative thought patterns and self-talk.

More ways entail taking small steps to achieve big goals, taking time to do personal reflections, taking time off, writing down your ideas and taking care of the basics such as sleeping well, eating breakfast and lunch, drinking water, dressing well and planning your day well.

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.


  • thriveyard.com
  • mindtools.com

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Source: Sabonews.org

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