Proactive, Reactive Or a Little of Both?

February 8, 2012

In a recent meeting, one of the quieter members, after jotting down a couple of notes on a yellow pad, brought up a critical point. Are we proactive or reactive in assessing issues and finding solutions? That got the whole group thinking which was good; this room was filled with key leadership.

Leadership is always an interesting variable to look at. It is constantly changing each and every day across businesses in Indiana. There indeed is both reactive leadership and proactive leadership. The difference is in action. But not the way we think action is in normal terminology. Because in leadership, taking action might mean doing absolutely nothing in a given situation; there are many issues within an organization that simply will go away with time because they are “tabled” or ignored until they vanish by themselves. This type of leadership reaction is not uncommon and it certainly saves a good deal of thought and time.

Within the Dale Carnegie principles of proactive leadership we see a much different leader. It is one that uses communication and bolts it to mission to create opportunity at every level.

  • Reactive leaders are prone to making decisions based on policies and rules. It is what it is.
  • Reactive leaders like status quo and are very weary of change.
  • Reactive leaders judge and blame others quickly and then move on.
  • Proactive leaders share decisions and trust others in goal setting and creating objectives.
  • Proactive leaders influence change. They do make it a team effort.
  • Proactive leaders let people grow regardless of rank or file.
  • Proactive leaders take risk and are wide-open with everyone in reference to guiding values and mission.

Sometimes a simple shift in focus and process will create a proactive leader out of a reactive one. In reactivity, the process is problem, reaction, solution. In proactivity, it is opportunity, action, everyone is onboard.

Mr. Carnegie stated decades ago that leadership must ask questions and not give orders. And they must use encouragement to the benefit of others. Proactivity is actually a very simple strategy. One that is so simple in thought that not everyone thinks about it.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central Indiana, providers of professional development and management development courses and information in Indiana. We would love to connect with you on Facebook.

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