For some, the term “Proactive Leadership” means being aware of gaps, obstacles and faults before it becomes noticeable to others. The problem though, is that noticing a problem and even taking care of it, doesn’t mean you’re being perceived as proactive leader.
Let me explain – do you remember the last time your boss jumped by and said something like “you noticed that X is stuck right?” or “what are you going to do about Y?”.
“OF COURSE I DID!” you reply, “I’ve talked with Joe, and he’s taking care of it”.
This doesn’t feel like you were perceived as proactive leader right?
Proactive leadership is about being communicative when you spot these faults, as soon as they happen. So here is my secret trick – next time you see it coming, follow the “I’m on it” template:
TO: [relevant people: your boss, your peer, your teammates etc.]
Subject: Saw that [gap], I’m on it! (EOM)
Subject: Saw that Joe left angry today, I’m on it! (EOM)
I tend to add EOM (“End of Message”) if it’s a short status update. If you feel that you’ve got more to add to this email, feel free to add to it, but never wait with the first email! It’s perfectly fine to use something like “Saw that [gap], I’m on it! More details to follow… (EOM)”.
Being communicative will reduce the need of your boss, peers and teammates to double-check everything with you. They will get custom to the ritual of “when shit happens, she’ll raise a flag”. This is how proactive leadership should be – being aware, communicative and setting the tone.
Now I pass it to you – which tricks are you using to let everyone know you’re in control?