“The key is taking responsibility and initiative, deciding what your life is about and prioritizing your life around the most important things.” – Stephen Covey

Initiative Overview

Leaders make things happen. Initiative is the act of leading action. Another definition is that initiative is taking action even though someone has not given you orders to do so. It means meeting new and unexpected situations with prompt action. It includes using resourcefulness to get something done without the normal material or methods available to you.

Why Initiative is Important to a Leader

Initiative involves a decision to do something. Leaders take the initial steps in an effort. They may delegate and not actually perform the task, but they initiate the effort. Few leaders progress far in their career without initiative. Effective leaders take on new tasks and expand their power base by taking on things beyond what is expected.

Benefits for the Leader

When a leader takes risk and uses initiative the results are typically positive and outweigh any potential negative results. Leaders see opportunities, assess risks, and take action. In particular, leaders take initiative to fix what may be wrong. This can only benefit the organization and the credibility of the individual leader.

Top 3 Coaches Recommendations for Initiative
  1. Look for ways to make things better. What ideas do you have that could improve conditions or the quality of your processes, products or services.
  2. What does it mean to you to stretch yourself beyond your normal tasks. Consider your team members. Who stretches to achieve more? How can you help those who only do the minimum to do more?
  3. List your tasks and responsibilities. What does ownership of each mean to you? Do you accept all responsibilities that come with your position? Are you proactive in taking ownership of tasks and projects?
Measure and Improve Your Initiative Skills

Be determined to improve your initiative. Take the short self-assessment on this page to identify where to improve. Then, get more coaches’ recommendations in Chapter 22 of The Leadership Compass: Mapping Your Leadership Direction to help you renew in this important competency.

Related Competencies:



Measure your initiative skills and behaviors!

Select your level of agreement with each statement in the self-assessment.
When answering the questions, consider how others might evaluate your initiative.


Recommended Initiative Books:

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