How to Be a Star Performer: Taking Initiative

Jul 16, 2019
This week's micro-learning subject is the first of a nine-part series from the book "How to Be a Star at Work: 9 Breakthrough Strategies You Need to Succeed" by Robert E. Kelley.
The first strategy is taking INITIATIVE. Watch to learn what it is, how to do it, when, why, and for whom. This is especially important for those who are in a new role to hear.
What is initiative? Seizing opportunities and going the extra mile to make the biggest impact. The best time to capitalize on these opportunities? Ideally in the first 6-12 months on the job. 
How? Seek out responsibilities that are beyond your job description that benefit coworkers or the larger group (not you or not *just* you), follow it through to successful implementation or at least a significant finding/report.
Here are some key points:
  • Effort. Small efforts have the same impact on your perceived value as big impacts do over time, so start with the small efforts. Effort builds your reputation and it doesn't matter whether your initiative is deemed a success or a failure. 
  • Delegation. Don't cause other people to work. This is your initiative until it's taken up by someone with the authority to delegate work. 
  • Attention. Make sure any attention you receive is for the merit of your initiative as opposed to grandstanding.
  • White space. Move outside of your job description to find "white space" or places to fill gaps between other jobs/business functions. 
  • Ownership. You alone are spearheading this initiative and your ownership of it should be clear.
  • Prioritize. Review your current commitments to make sure that you can still meet your deliverables for your dedicated role.
  • Bottom line. The closer to the profitability of the business your initiative lies, the better. For example, cafeteria costs are less impactful than manufacturing costs.
  • If you are more senior in your role:
    • Look for systemic problems or sets of similar problems to solve. 
    • Determine the probability of success and cost of failure before investing your energy into any certain initiative.
The professional who becomes adept at taking initiatives learns quickly that efforts don't need to be brilliant to have impact. Demonstrate a bias for action. 
Next, join us in the private Facebook group just for high-performing mid-career women for a deeper dive on taking initiative. See you there!

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