Anita’s boss is traveling abroad with intermittent access to emails and chat. To make things worse, it snows heavily in the city where her boss is staying, which results in zero connectivity. Meanwhile, Anita and her teammates are working on a deadline-based critical project. Suddenly, a bug comes in and no one is able to solve it. The boss is not reachable, the deadline is tight, and the team can’t afford to wait to hear back from the boss.
Suddenly, Anita takes charge, and, within a couple of hours, everyone in the team is assigned tasks and together they are able to resolve the issue. On the surface, it would appear that the success was the result of the team effort. But to me, it was Anita’s initiative that led the entire team to work together and resolve the issue. When the team was in a mess, it was Anita who proactively took the initiative and now the result is in front of us. The team was not only able to solve that bug but they were able to deliver the project successfully on time, even in the absence of their boss.
To start with, let’s first understand what initiative is. To put it simply, it is the power or opportunity to proactively do something before others. “Initiative can neither be created nor delegated. It can only spring from the self-determining individual, who decides that the wisdom of others is not always better than his own,” says R. Buckminster Fuller.
You’ll see that the leaders around you don’t ponder over problems for long. They don’t wait for others to tell them what to do and how to do it. They are forward-thinkers, they take the initiative to lead, and in the end, they take complete ownership of their actions, be it a failure or success.
The good thing is that taking initiative is a skill that you can develop. Here are a couple of tips that can help you come to the forefront and take charge.
Learning and developing new skills will help boost your confidence and enhance your capabilities to take an initiative and the lead. You can learn new skills or improve your existing skills by proactively enrolling for training and development programs that your HR or Learning and Development teams run. Another good way to learn new skills is to take on more projects. The more knowledgeable and skilled you are, the more confident you will be to lead from the front.
Don’t always expect someone to spoon-feed you. You have to get out of your comfort zone at work and only then you can take initiative and lead your team. As a leader, you just need to think out of the box.
To take initiative at work, stop thinking of yourself as an individual and start behaving as a team member. You can’t devote or commit yourself fully to something that you don’t consider yours.
Don’t hesitate to share your ideas within the team and with your managers. “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere,” said Lee Iacocca. There is always a need for fresh, powerful concepts. Sharing an idea can be your first trigger to taking an initiative.
So who would you rather be? Are you an Anita who takes the initiative and leads her team to success or are you still in your comfort zone waiting for someone to come and tell you what to do? Coming out of your comfort zone and becoming an Anita is all that it takes to be a leader.