Proactivity* is taking steps to create a situation rather than just accepting things as they are. Being proactive is sometimes considered the opposite of being reactive, which is a response to an event. In business, I like to think of proactive activities as acting like the CEO and reactive as acting like the manager. Both are important, but when we are working to make things better, we are being proactive.
True proactivity* is about balance. We need to be proactive for our self, our family and our work to make a true difference.
All leaders strive to remain proactive, yet sometimes slip into a reactive mindset in some area. The secret is to stay proactive as much as possible. Here are some tips for staying proactive:
Be unavailable - Being proactive really requires having uninterrupted time. It takes some time for your mind to get into that mode and a phone can pull you right out of it. Turn it off, just for a little while and you decide when you are unavailable.
Schedule time to plan / think - This is important for yourself and for your team. A daily or weekly meeting time, a scheduled office retreat, and an administrative day are all great examples of scheduling in proactivity*. Doing it in your spare time will not work.
Create and maintain a system of proactivity* - This may involve a number of tools and team members to create a situation where it is normal that it will happen. The system always needs to be tweaked and adjusted to remain effective.
Set goals, list steps for the goals and keep them visible - In the next article, Doug Hanson discusses in detail how to create STRONG goals. Once you do, find a way to keep them in front of you so you can work toward them a little everyday.
Delegate - Effective delegating takes practice and is a topic we will cover extensively soon. But for now, it is a skill that needs to be developed by practicing. Start by delegating small tasks and be sure to discuss follow up.
Get help - There are a lot of great books, programs and services that can help you find a system of being proactive that works for you.
Click here to see my article in Review of Optometric Business about the benefit of coaching.
It is easy to stay proactive. It just takes practice.
* (It turns out that "proactivity" is not a real word, but I think it should be, so I used it.)