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Understanding What Makes a Proactive Leader Tick

written by: N Nayab•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 5/20/2011

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to be a powerful leader? Learn to use your resourcefulness and initiative to find solutions and get things done.

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    Responsibility is the Name of the Game

    Proactive Leadership People with a proactive mind take responsibility of their own lives and seek ways to shape their own destiny, without blaming other people or external circumstances for their misfortunes. Rather than brooding over shortcomings or difficult challenges, they assess the situation and seek positive means to overcome challenges. Such people make good leaders, and here's why:

    • they do not shirk or avoid responsibility, and have little tolerance for people who do.
    • they coach others to face challenges rather than merely telling people what to do.
    • they transmit positive energy. They use words such as “I can," “I will," and “I prefer," rather than using words such as “I can't," “I have to," “if only", which transmit negative energy and betray actions and decisions dictated by circumstances rather than by choice.

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    Focus on the Positives and Learn From the Negatives

    These leaders concentrate their time and energy on things they can control rather than reacting or worrying about things that they cannot control. They approach problems using various methods of human influence such as empathy, confrontation, example, and persuasion, but understand and respect problems or issues over which they have no control, and try to circumvent such problems.

    Proactive leaders apply their positive outlook in many ways by:

    • foreseeing and influencing change rather than reacting to external change.
    • sharing a compelling vision with the team rather than pushing for results.
    • focusing on performance outcomes while predicting problems before they occur.
    • teaching self-reliance rather than issuing directions to subordinates.
    • increasing or decreasing responsibility for an individual or group rather than punishing or blaming them when things go wrong.
    • holding people responsible and accountable but do not make a pejorative assessment of them. They'd rather study what went wrong and use the opportunity as a learning experience.
    • accepting people as they are and do not try to change them. They rather concentrate their energies on trying to encourage and facilitate people to perform to the best their abilities and interests, and simultaneously develop their skills and abilities.
    • display a high level of tolerance for individual traits, characteristics, beliefs, idiosyncrasies, interests, and mood swings, but have little tolerance for sub-standard work and expecting everyone to give their best effort at work.
    • using crisis as a learning opportunity. For instance, when most leaders consider a slowdown during a period of crisis, these leaders use the opportunity to develop plans to cut costs and increase market share.

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    Decisiveness and Thinking on Your Feet

    Proactive Leadership A major characteristic they possess is their action-oriented nature. These leaders do not procrastinate, postpone decisions or actions, hesitate to do what is required, proceed reluctantly, try to avoid doing things, or delay doing things that need doing. At the same time, they are not reckless or impulsive. They act thoughtfully but quickly, considering all relevant facts, and are decisive and timely.

    They have the ability to:

    • take quick action, owing to their understanding of power and using teams to solve problems.
    • develop the capabilities of their team and encourage others to make decisions on their own.
    • give up control if delegation yields the best outcome, in contrast to many other leaders who are either afraid or reluctant to delegate, and seek answers by themselves.
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    Goal Orientation and Meeting Objectives

    While all leaders set the direction and motivate the team members to work toward defined goals, proactive leaders do not stop here. They ensure the involvement of the team members, and monitor progress toward attaining objectives. They meet challenges head-on, without worrying about contingencies or maintaining status quo.

    This goal orientated person:

    • remains cautious, but not paralyzed, by the potential downside of action when setting goals.
    • pursues goals incrementally but cautiously, not exposing the organization to unnecessary and avoidable risks.
    • takes calculated risks and has contingency plans to cater to either outcome.

    Leaders who possess this nature add value to an organization by leveraging resources in the best possible manner toward realization of the organizational goals.

    Now that you have these tips, get out there and apply them!

Leadership Tips for the Home Office Worker

When you work from home, it can be a lot harder to take part in professional development activities and hone leadership skills. In this series, learn more about different leadership styles and ways you gain valuable experience as a leader.
  1. Famous Examples of Different Leadership Styles
  2. People-Oriented Leadership Activities
  3. Servant Leadership vs. Authentic Leadership: What are the Differences?
  4. Understanding What Makes a Proactive Leader Tick