The practice of stepping out and initiating action
What is it?
Having initiative means constantly looking for ways that you can contribute to your team, department or organization and taking action accordingly. It’s saying to your boss, “Would you mind if I helped out on this project if I did so in my spare time?” What boss would say no?
Why is it important?
Today’s workforce is full of people who are disengaged from their jobs. These employees are only marginally invested in the success of their organization, and often do only what is asked of them. Leaders and managers are on the constant lookout for employees who, by contrast, strive to add value to the organization by taking initiative. This may be one of the quickest ways to get yourself noticed as a high potential employee.
Ask For and Take On Additional Work
First of all, offer to help out wherever it’s needed. When you hear of something your boss is doing, say to him or her “I can do that for you” or “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you with that.” I guarantee that your boss will notice the effort. Take the initiative to do additional work that hasn’t been assigned to you. Ask for more challenging tasks. Do the things nobody else wants to do. Be a go-getter.
Figure it Out Yourself
Second, people who take initiative figure out how to do things independently. Rather than waiting to be told exactly how to execute a task, google the steps, research the terms, and learn how to do it yourself. Bosses generally don’t have time to sit down and make a step-by-step list of how to do something. They want their team members to be independent and figure out how to do things on their own. Do your homework and figure it out for yourself.
Finally, taking the initiative means contributing to group discussions. You need to be an active participant who is engaged, thoughtful, and eager to contribute. Think about the issues in advance and be ready to participate in meetings. Mentally rehearse your comments, then offer them with confidence. Even if you’re a little unsure of yourself, take a risk and be bold. You’ll make some mistakes, of course, but you’ll also learn how to contribute to conversations and influence decisions.