Hire Marie M. , a brainy Business Speaker from Oxford, United Kingdom | Expertbase


Quick Summary

Do the people in your organisation feel free to use their initiative or are they waiting to be told what to do?
7 min
1302 Words
4.61 K
"Yes, of course. No problem. I'll make sure that gets to you before you leave for your holiday." And, sure enough, the proofs arrived before I left. I knew they would. From the start, the new printing company I'd chosen had shown initiative and excellent customer focus. My kind of company. What a shame that they are so few and far between.

I wonder why people are not taught about using their initiative from the very first day they enter an organisation? Initiative is one of the most important assets for any company. If it is true that the accounts, the bottom line, reflect behaviour, then initiative is one of the most important behaviours any organisation can encourage.

* Do the people in your organisation feel free to use their initiative or are they waiting to be told what to do?

The easiest way to discover the answer to this question is to listen to the language people use in your organisation. Do you hear phrases like: "Of course, no problem. Yes, I'll do that for you. It's a pleasure." Do people take responsibility for getting things done, for owning callers' problems, for making sure the organisation's reputation is kept intact? Do they work to the maxim: "When we say we'll do something, we will"? If so, then the management and staff of your organisation are doing a wonderful job to foster initiative.

However, if people dwell on the past, talk about the "good old days" and focus on why they can't do something, and if the language they use is more like: "I'm sorry, that's not my section, I can't help you, you'll have to phone back", then you can be guaranteed that there is no sense of initiative being engendered. People in this kind of organisation feel powerless, give up easily, take no interest in the strategic intent of the organisation and won't identify with a group/team or their role within it. They will treat their work as "just a job" and behave in that way. They won't care about or take responsibility for making sure things get done or that Customers' concerns are dealt with positively and quickly. It will always be "someone else's problem" and never theirs.

Developing Trust

Trust, or lack of it, is the foundation for all behaviour. Trust underlies the growth and development of every individual, team and organisation. People need a sense of inclusion, belonging, being supported and a feeling of confidence in themselves and the organisation to which they belong. When you develop a trusting environment, people feel positive about themselves and the organisation. They will want it to succeed. They will co-operate and share ideas, use their initiative and move the organisation forward.

Trust is all about consistency of behaviour. Did you ever hear someone saying, "If he said he'll do it, he will" or "If she said she'd be here, she will". What the person is really saying is that they trust the person they're talking about to be consistent in their behaviour. If they say they'll do something or be somewhere, they will. They always keep their word.

Once people develop trust, they create an environment where people will use their initiative. If people don't develop trust, they develop mistrust and dependence. They will always need to be "told what to do", need rules and regulations and never use their own initiative.

"We need to be using the combined brain power of the staff to be able to face up to the turbulence and constraints of today's environment, mobilising every ounce of intelligence." Ernesto Sirolli, Ripples from the Zambezi.

Initiative is a frame of mind, a way of thinking and behaving in the world. People who use their initiative are self-starters. They take on roles outside of their normal work, they are pro-active and anticipate problems in order to prevent them or to prepare for them. They are good at making decisions and following them through. They take responsibility and make things happen. They don't just build pie in the sky' dreams. They are able to develop something through from imagination to reality.

Organisations will only survive if there is a constant flow of ideas, innovative thinking and people using their initiative to implement some of those ideas. When trust and initiative are developed, everyone in the organisation will co-operate to make sure things do get done.

People who have developed initiative

* are clear about what's expected of them
* understand how it adds value to the organisation's intentions
* do what they set out to do
* take on extra responsibilities
* willingly do things outside of what's normally expected of them
* understand that change happens and it needs to be dealt with flexibly.

Making Errors

In an organisation where initiative is encouraged, people won't be afraid to discuss mistakes or errors when they occur. Everyone in the organisation will understand that initiative can only be used if errors are incorporated as part of the learning process. Learning comes from making mistakes and learning from the experience of others. If things go wrong, people need to be encouraged to reflect on what went wrong and to make sure they take the learning forward to get it right the next time.

WOM Marketing

"It should be the top priority of every employee to build, protect and represent your brand to the best of their ability." Joe Calloway, "Becoming a Category of One".

When people connect externally, what are they saying about you? What stories are they telling about the experience of working with your organisation, being a customer or supplier? How's your WOM Marketing (Word of Mouth)? "Word-of-mouth marketing is the easiest and most cost-effective way to increase sales. We are a gossip species. Human beings talk about each other. When we encourage those we know to do it proactively, we dramatically increase the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing." Roy Sheppard, Rapid Results Referrals www.RoySpeaks.com

We can only connect through trust. People trust referrals from other people who've had a good experience with your organisation. Following recent scandals such as Enron, Worldcom and Andersen, most organisations are rightly focusing on a psychological turnaround. They are spending time developing trust with their staff, customers and suppliers. How are you building trust? What are people saying about you? Do you know? Is it contributing positively or negatively to your organisation's success?

If we believe in our product or service, then we need to be encouraging and creating positive stories that will help people to understand what we're about and how we can benefit them.


Organisations will only survive and thrive if there is a constant flow of new ideas and innovative thinking - in other words, if people are using their initiative. One of the most important ways in which any organisation can make a positive impact on its staff, customers and shareholders is to foster a culture of initiative.

Every person's behaviour affects the bottom line. If we set up environments where people foster trust, allow mistakes, support exploration, increase self-esteem and satisfy the need for achievement that every human being possesses, people will be pro-active and use their initiative. They will help to eliminate waste of time, money and resources. They will think of new, effective ways to do what needs to be done, take action to resolve problems and clarify miscommunications and most of all they will be customer focused. You can be sure that their behaviour will affect the bottom line.
This Article is authored / contributed by ▸ Marie M. who travels from Oxford, United Kingdom. Marie is available for Professional Speaking Work both Virtually and In-Person. ▸ Enquire Now.

Your Comments

Your thoughts matter to others - more than you can imagine.

More Articles published by Marie

3 Free | Ad-Free | Full-Text Business Papers
More Articles written / submitted by Marie M.
Mergers and Acquisitions

Mergers, Acquisitions And Partnerships

MAPs are like marriage. Many Boards concentrate on the wedding day and forget to work on the on-going relationship. As with a marriage, different people ...
50   |   5.14 K   |   6 min
More Articles written / submitted by Marie M.
Success Building

Invisible Assets

Measuring and managing invisible and intangible assets is one of the most powerful sources of sustainable competitive advantage.
50   |   5.62 K   |   10 min
More Articles written / submitted by Marie M.
Corporate Culture

Changing Cultures Using The Power Of Story

Stories are not an optional extra in organisations. They are being told and re-told at the water cooler, on the phone and via e-mail - both internally ...
50   |   4.8 K   |   6 min

More 'Leadership' Articles

15 more Articles that may interest you, too...
Graham Y. : Leadership - Do You Use Or Abuse Power?

Leadership - Do You Use Or Abuse Power?

How do you prefer to "control and influence" others?
30.62 K   |   417
John R. : The Biggest Crisis In The World

The Biggest Crisis In The World

The biggest crisis in the world today may not be what you thought it may be.
780   |   112
Albert E. : Beyond Oil: Reappraising The Gulf States

Beyond Oil: Reappraising The Gulf States

Further reform will be essential if one of the world?s fastest-growing regions is to seize a broader role in the global economy
6.14 K   |   50
David P. : How To Be A Charismatic Chairperson

How To Be A Charismatic Chairperson

In every workplace, on virtually any day, there will be one, six, ten, a hundred meetings and every one will be 'led' by someone. Whether that person sees themselves as 'chairing' the meeting or not, the other people do. And so every day throughout the world there are tens of thousands of people chairing meetings - it is perhaps the most common universal activity which occurs in workplaces in every part of the globe every working day.
1.35 K   |   51
Mubeena M. : Become A Leader Now

Become A Leader Now

Most people associate leadership with position titles, materialism, the number of subordinates and territories one controls, and someone who fits the elderly-grey hair-pot belly with decades-of-experience profile. Today I'm here to dispel this illusory definition.
3.12 K   |   50
Niladri R. : Improving The Quality Of Decision Making

Improving The Quality Of Decision Making

The effectiveness of a decision will significantly improve if a decision maker considers ''all variables'' impacting the decision.
1.51 K   |   52
Ajai S. : Office Politics: Survival Of The Savvy

Office Politics: Survival Of The Savvy

Politically competent leaders map the terrain and get people on their side by building a coalition and lead the coalition to achieve results
7.88 K   |   50
Francis N. : Credibility: The New Leadership Currency

Credibility: The New Leadership Currency

There are very few individuals or groups of individual in government, commercial or voluntary organisation that are called upon, chosen, or bestowed with the mantel of leadership. For these few individuals their every behaviour and discourse are always subject to open scrutiny, and we expect them to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the role that they are playing.
4.4 K   |   50
Stuart E. : Management And Business - Hard Skills Or Soft Skills?

Management And Business - Hard Skills Or Soft Skills?

Most managers will say they know people are important, the question is, do they really believe it themselves?
17.71 K   |   50
John R. : A Crisis Of Commitment

A Crisis Of Commitment

Has it become “socially acceptable” that is, we have grown accustomed to people failing to do what they say and we let them off the hook?
853   |   50
Martin Keith S. : Inspirational Leadership

Inspirational Leadership

SEPARATING THE METEORIC FROM THE MEDIOCRE! The leadership style that suits you is also required to suit the majority of occasions and the majority of people you inspire and lead. It may well vary according to the circumstances (and probably should!)
7.1 K   |   50
Kevin K. : Leadership Styles

Leadership Styles

So what is your leadership style?
3.28 K   |   50
John R. : Conscious Leadership: Taking Responsibility For Our Better Future

Conscious Leadership: Taking Responsibility For Our Better Future

Perhaps the time has come to look at the way we lead others in a more relevant-to-reality fashion?
3.55 K   |   50
Graham Y. : Why Leadership Matters In Professional Practices

Why Leadership Matters In Professional Practices

Too many organisations are "over-managed and under-led" to quote Warren Bennis. There is a difference between leadership and management.
3.73 K   |   50
Joy W. : The Managers Role In Promoting Quality Leadership

The Managers Role In Promoting Quality Leadership

Enhance your relationships with direct reports and co-workers and increase your ability to be successful in the completion of your goals
4.11 K   |   50
Back to top