As you begin reading this, I would like to start with a question. How many of you consider yourself a leader? This is not a question about your title at work or your status with a volunteer organization. In life, do you consider yourself a leader?
Let me ask this another way. How many of you are a mother or father, an aunt or uncle, a sister or brother, or a a coworker with others? Maybe a more simple way to ask is, how many of you have breath in your lungs, a heart that pumps blood through your veins, and can communicate with others? If you fit any of these descriptions, then someone is looking to you for leadership.
One part of successful leadership is taking initiative. Here are a few key points on how leaders take initiative.
1) Leaders know what they want - If you are going to be effective, you will need to know what you want. When an opportunity presents itself, you need to be prepared. There is no guarantee that things will turn out the way you desire, the only way to have a chance, is if you are prepared.
2) Leaders push themselves to act - Leaders are not waiting for others to provide motivation. They understand that motivation can be fleeting. Leaders have drive and determination to keep moving towards their goals.
3) Leaders take more risk - A principle point in leadership is that you are moving into territory or areas of action where others may have not gone before you. A leader will take the risks that others have not, and then will bring their cohorts along as the leader demonstrates success is achievable.
4) Leaders make more mistakes - By the simple fact that leaders are taking more risks, they are at least twice as likely to make mistakes as well. So long as there is movement, mistakes can be corrected and overcome. Getting yourself moving in the right direction can only happen if you are actually moving. Do not let the mistakes stop you from the next opportunity.
If you need help in improving initiative, here are some ideas:
1) Change your mindset - Do not let fear of mistakes or the worry of messing up stop you from pursuing initiative
2) Do not wait for the opportunity to knock - Be preparing yourself now for your future opportunity. Many will tell you that luck is simply being prepared with the right opportunity is presented. Be reading, studying, learning, and practicing.
3) Take the next step - There are ample opportunities, if you know what you want and are preparing yourself to take initiative, to start taking on responsibilities for the next role you desire. Whether that be in your place of employment or through a volunteer organization.
Taking initiative comes more natural to some individuals. If you are one of those who gets uneasy taking initiative, work through your discomfort with small steps. Provide feedback in meetings where you would normally stay quiet, find someone who is where you want to be and take them out to coffee or lunch from time to time to glean insight and knowledge from them. Most people like to talk about themselves and the areas of strength in their own lives. Ask questions, seek insight, and make the decision to move forward with the knowledge you gain.