I have always been intrigued by peak performers – those who do well and innovate and change the way we think on a consistent basis. In Robert Kelley’s book, How to be a Star at Work, he lists a series of traits his research has revealed about top performers. I just want to cover one of them this evening: peak performers, he says, take the initiative in both ideas and actions.
I spend an awful lot of time with managers and leaders from Fortune 500 companies. I always ask them, “What is missing from the fresh faces you hire these days? “ Almost invariably, they talk about people who can follow well but don’t know how to take the lead. Kelley and others can help us. Here’s what some of the best minds tell us initiative-takers do:
First, they readily look for problems to solve. When no one else wants to jump into a tough spot, they step forward.
Second, they look for the “white spaces.” By that, researchers say, they mean that high-functioning professionals don’t just look at what’s in front of them. Instead, they ask over and over, “What’s missing here?” or “What has no one asked that needs to be asked?”
Third, they persist, even when nay-sayers abound. You know the drill: there’s always going to be someone when you do take initiative saying, “Do you really think we should be the first?” or “Do you really want to do that?” or worse still, “Hey, Joe…hold back. You’re making the rest of us look bad!”
Victor Hugo said, “Initiative is doing the right thing without being told.”
Are you ready?