How effective leaders get results – 7 ways to be more proactive

Read our guide, How Effective Leaders Get Results: 7 Ways to be More Proactive, to learn how taking initiative in small, specific ways can help you reach your goals—for your team, your career, and your life.

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Leadership often means doing stuff no one else wants to

  • Broaching touchy topics
  • Making unpopular decisions
  • Accepting responsibility
  • Charting a clear path in a haze of uncertainty
  • Questioning the status quo

These aren’t exactly easy (or glamorous) undertakings — especially if you’re relatively new to leadership and accustomed to letting others take charge. But the good news is you don’t have to dramatically overhaul your behavior to take more initiative. You just need to make a few small, doable tweaks to your regular planning and communication habits.

This guide will help you make changes, whether you are leading collocated teams, remote employees, or a mix of both.

1. Most leaders are asked to do more than is humanly possible

If you pretend you can handle anything and everything that comes your way, you could end up not only burning out, but also failing at your job.

To tell if you might be falling into this common trap, ask yourself:
How do you start your days? Do you sit down at your desk and simply react to whatever seems most urgent?

Every role requires a certain amount of this — for example, maybe your team is responsible for resolving customer complaints as they crop up. But you can’t afford to consistently get so bogged down in the crisis du jour that you lose sight of bigger, more important parts of your job, like ensuring your team is working toward key goals, or diving into a longer-term, high-profile project early so you have enough time to do quality work.

To keep your priorities straight, set aside a few minutes at the end of each workday to make a list of your 3–5 most important tasks for the next day.

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.

- Stephen R. Covey

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