There are many great leaders in the world. Perhaps you are one of them. Leaders like you possess many varying qualities that make them great leaders, but one characteristic that is common among great leaders is their ability to be proactive. To better understand the ability to be proactive we must determine what it means to be proactive versus being reactive. A reactive person is one whose agenda and actions are dictated by the events immediately facing them. These reactive people would often be labeled procrastinators or lacking initiative because they do not generally act until they are acted upon. Proactive leaders, on the other hand, dictate the actions and control the surrounding events.
How can we become more effective proactive leaders?
Surfing and Proactive Leadership
A great analogy to illustrate the points of a proactive leader can be found in surfing. The coastal waters are often ripe with surfers on their boards in the summer months. As you watch them, you will see a number of beginning boarders getting smashed by waves, missing waves and being pushed into the rocks. You will also see those who seem to effortlessly catch each wave and ride the wave in to shore. What makes the difference? Is it strength? Is it skill? Is it experience? It may be a result of those characteristics, but it is likely a result of the ability to be proactive. I had the experience of surfing for the first time last summer, so let me explain how I tried to take a proactive approach to surfing.
I watched the surfers in the water and noticed many getting pushed into the rocks, many who were unable to actually catch a wave and others who were simply smashed by the waves. As I started, I recognized that I needed to draw on the experience of those who knew the trade. I began asking questions of those who I could see knew how to surf. I was shown where to position my board, which waves to try to catch, when to paddle away, which waves to avoid and when to begin paddling. Drawing on this knowledge, I was able to plan. I could position myself in a safe location that would put me in a place to catch the waves. I would then listen to those who recognized the good waves, and I would paddle when they told me to paddle. This allowed me not to paddle too soon and miss the wave, or paddle to late and get smashed by the wave. Soon I found myself being taken by the waves and feeling like I was walking on water. To actually stand and ride the waves in to shore I had to focus on my positioning on the board, timing of when to stand and balancing once I was up. Listening to the advice of those who knew helped me to avoid being smashed into the rocks or churned by the waves by allowing me to act proactively.
Breaking Down The Points
First, we need to do the necessary homework. We need to have the basic skill set and understand what will be required in the moment of action. As the scripture says, “if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” Going fearfully through life would be a miserable existence. If we do not understand the unknown, we should surround ourselves with those who have the expertise in that area, so that we do not have to fear. Those who are wise enough to draw on the wisdom of others will not have need to fear because they will be well advised.
Second, we need to plan. Effective planning includes anticipating and thinking of possible scenarios that will confront us in the near and foreseeable future, and planning ways to meet those scenarios. Proactive leaders have an ability to see patterns or trends, or they have been advised of patterns or trends, and they plan ways to meet the likely scenarios. Proactive leaders are actually reactive they just possess more foresight than those people labeled reactive. Proactive people are reactive to what they believe will happen. An event or scenario has already played itself out, or at least the possibility of the scenario has played itself out, in the proactive leader's mind before the event actually takes place. This ability to plan and think ahead makes the leader's action appear proactive.
Finally, we need to stay focused. Proactive leaders are focused on obtaining an end goal, and they continue the required maintenance to achieve that goal. If we lose sight of the end goal, then it is easy to get blown off course or settle for mediocrity. Reactive meanderers are content with mediocrity, but proactive leaders are always searching for ways to better themselves. By bettering themselves, proactive leaders recognize that they are laying the groundwork for their continued success, and ability to avoid fear because they are prepared.
At Hinkins Law, LLC we would like to assist you in becoming more successful and in handling life in a more proactive manner. Often proactively addressing potential problems in business by having skilled counsel review your contracts, strategize legal options, draft your documents, or simply review your course of action can avoid countless hours in litigation and thousands of dollars in fees. Allow us to assist your company in handling your potential legal issues in a more successful and proactive manner. It is your business—take control.