How to Become Wildly Productive
“A lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to.” (
The most productive leaders:
- Set stretch goals.
- Drive hard for results.
- Practice unfailing consistency.
- Expand knowledge and technical skill.
- Display energy and take initiative.
- Anticipate and solve problems.
(Zenger – Forbes.)
In an HBR post, Zenger and Folkman added a seventh trait, “Be collaborative.”
This post focuses on INITIATIVE.
The 5 practices of initiative:
#1. Do for yourself what you wish others would do for you.
Would you like a mentor? Then get off your butt and find a mentor. Do you need more information from higher ups? Go ask questions.
#2. Consider a lousy leader an opportunity to contribute.
You develop skills, gain knowledge, and develop humility when you do your boss’s job for him. If he takes credit for your work, forget it.
Expand your resume. Continue learning, developing, and contributing. Then move on.
#3. Fail trying, not gathering information.
Losers hide behind the word ‘right’. I’m waiting for the right time, the right team, the right resources.
Unproductive people love the word, ‘waiting’. I’m waiting for permission. I’m waiting for someone to return my call.
Initiative gets in trouble sometimes. But trouble caused by initiative is better than trouble caused by delay.
Ask forgiveness, not permission.
Proactive leaders believe NOW is better than later.
#4. Learn by trying stuff, not simply talking.
Talk deceives teams into believing they’re getting stuff done. Yes, define problems and explore solutions, but make choices that enable visible action.
If you can’t see it, it doesn’t count. Talking about things is a beginning. But initiative always ends in action.
#5. Do more than needs to be done.
Anticipate what your customers need and give it before they ask. This applies to colleagues, employees, and bosses.
If you will start small, you’re less likely to stay small.
What does the practice of extreme initiative look like to you?
When is initiative a bad thing?