Insights with Dzigbordi K. Dosoo: How to be more proactive at work

Positive conflicts in the workplace

Today’s workplace is more demanding than it used to, and it keeps evolving faster each second. The typical traditional workplace where hard skills were all that mattered has started adding to it the soft or human skills and this is producing great results. There are many types of human skills that the workplace can benefit from, and one of them that is becoming more important these days is the initiative skills. It is one skill that needs the mustering of courage and a willingness to take risk to be able to demonstrate it.

It is the ability to be resourceful and work without always being told what to do, and it requires determination and resilience. In taking initiative at work, you demonstrate the will to think for yourself and take action when necessary, thereby showing your value to your coworkers, colleagues, supervisor and leaders. This proactive nature will cause you to become more responsible for your actions and show good leadership qualities in you – thinking carefully to avoid making mistakes, and having the drive to achieve. You motivate your team to perform at a higher level when you demonstrate initiative and lead by example in the workplace.

Indeed underscores that initiative skill refers to your ability to independently assess issues and initiate solutions without direction from someone else. This type of skill may help you perform better in the workplace. You can show initiative at work in a variety of ways, including volunteering for leadership roles, helping coworkers and brainstorming ideas to help the company improve. Workplace initiative includes a mix of skills that can help you both come up with new approaches to workplace problems and communicate them to other employees and management, but many of them involve thinking critically and quickly to decide the best course of action and taking that action with confidence. Being proactive at work involves a commitment to identifying issues and taking steps to resolve them. Showing initiative can make your managers feel more comfortable in your ability to work independently and within teams. It can also help you improve your chances of getting a promotion, and it can inspire your coworkers to raise their performance. By mindfully taking initiative at work, you can also increase your value as an employee and broaden your skillset.

As a self-management skill, initiative leads to a growth mindset which is key in the workplace. In using your initiative to do things without being asked, solving problems that others may not have noticed needed solving, you to continue to learn and grow. You may research when required, ask questions and seek help when you need to. This will add to your experience as you continue to develop and grow in your role. It will make you the desired candidate for opportunities in your business, company or organization since in taking initiative, it allows you to get ahead of the competition and ensure you are up to date with what is going in your professional field. Workers who show good initiative often win awards and promotions as they generate exciting and beneficial ideas. Initiative skills can help you in all aspects of life.

The ability to use your initiative skills is really important to employers as they use that to scout for potential leaders in their business, company or organization. Many leaders or employers look out for employees who can think on their feet, who are agile, responsive to challenges, and take responsibility, treating the work as if it were their own instead of those who constantly complain about everything, blame others for their mistakes and do nothing to improve themselves for future opportunities. Employees with initiative skills come up with ideas to improve the business, company or organization even before they are asked. They are aware their ideas may not be agreed to, yet, they are willing to give it a shot and prepare themselves for the best as well as the worst. This determination causes them to always concentrate on the positive and see the brighter side of everything. They are not afraid to fail because they know there is always a lesson to learn from even the most unfortunate situations; and that knowledge can be used to build and add to their experience. As a human skills expert, initiative skills is one of the necessary traits I help clients to unearth as high performers.

Here are 4 steps to help you hone your initiative skills:


It has been researched that people with long-term plans are more likely to take initiative. Knowing your career goals and projections will help you gain the confidence you need, allow you to set your own pace and understand what you expect from your career. Once you define your long-term objectives and how to achieve them, assess where you see opportunities in your role to build the necessary skills and accomplishments. Also, make sure that you understand your job, your team and your organization’s purpose, so that you know what you should be achieving. When you know what you want and where you want to go, it makes it very easy to show initiative at work as soon as your employer presents an opportunity, without having to think about it for too long, especially when the action or decision will help you further your career goals. When you become certain about your professional goals, try and integrate it with your personal goals so that you can work towards both in alignment.


When you decide to take initiative, you expose yourself to rejection, ridicule or criticism. It is confidence – your willingness to try that leads to you becoming proactive enough to follow through your decisions and inspire others to follow your lead. Your suggestions may be disagreed by your team sometimes, so it is important to demonstrate confidence in your reasoning. This can help you to become an effective leader and influencer. You become reliable for your team and colleagues. You can demonstrate your self-confidence by constantly setting and achieving minor goals, and slowly increasing it to making major decisions. This will help you feel secure in your choices and teach you how to solve problems quickly. In addition, you can do research about topics that may come up at work so you can prepare an answer or solution in which you are confident. When you display confidence in your work performance and choices, people are more likely to believe in your abilities, which may make you feel more secure taking initiative.


It is a known fact that practice makes perfect, so for your initiative skills to improve, it needs regular practice. Practicing at home is one of the best ways to build your confidence and understand your response to sudden challenges or opportunities. You may find it useful to practice taking initiative in the comfort of your home or with family and friends. I always encourage my clients to create a list of opportunities and practice their response to them in the mirror until they feel comfortable declaring their solution or decision. I also task them to practice with their families by letting them roleplay work scenarios when it comes to building their confidence, so they can practice responses to unexpected requests. The results that I have seen over the years is that, those who stick to their assignment are able to gain confidence faster and deliver to the expectations of their leaders, colleagues and coworkers.


Adaptability is a useful skill for taking initiative because thinking quickly often means changing your original plans as you go. Sometimes, you may learn additional information after making a decision that requires you to change your original idea. Being adaptable allows you to offer new solutions or changes that can benefit your team and improve overall performance. This may also help you adapt existing ideas and take action to get those ideas changed by talking with your manager, giving an informative presentation or creating a petition. Persistence, the art of moving forward even when you encounter inertia or difficulty is also another useful skill for taking initiative. People who show initiative often encounter difficulties and setbacks along the way, so resilience and rational persistence – where you listen to, consider, and appropriately modify your direction depending on other people’s input are essential if you want to achieve what you have set out to do. When you are persisting with your idea, you will find things much easier if you learn how to manage change effectively – this can often make the difference between success and failure for a project. It is also helpful to learn how to open closed minds, since people may already have an opinion on a subject before you even start presenting your idea – indeed and mindtools.

No business, company or organization can truly thrive without initiative skills. The good news is that, it is one skill that can be easily learned. Leaders must therefore encourage and support their teams when it comes to initiative skills for a more engaged and productive workplace.

My book, ‘The Essentials of Image Leadership’ is a must-have book for you if you want to further improve on your initiative skills. Grab a copy for yourself, team and colleagues.


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