Many thanks to those hard working guys at DTS International in Sydney who recently published the following article.
7 Levels of Initiative
There was a thought-provoking article from the folks at Inc. Magazine last month, who asked their readers to define their “Best Employee Ever.”

The words that came back most frequently included trustworthiness, reliability, dedication, enthusiasm, humility, passion, a sense of humour, and being a team player.

But one word came up more than any other: proactive. (Taking initiative and having a “solutions-oriented” attitude.) For example, when there is a problem, come to your manager with solutions, options and alternatives, not just, “There’s a problem – what should I do?”

This stimulated lively debate in our office. On the whole, we agreed. Besides having a basic degree of integrity, ethical decency and compassion toward your fellow human being, it’s hard to imagine a quality that would be better to see in an employee you just hired than being proactive.

It was, after all, the very first habit in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits, viewed as the foundational skill of all life improvement. Being proactive also lays the groundwork for developing many necessary career skills, including personal accountability and work ethic; self-awareness and self-management; analytical problem solving and creativity. And perhaps most importantly, this quality is the primary way that innovation occurs in an organisation.

The 7 Levels of Initiative By Stephen Covey In exploring the idea of being proactive, Stephen Covey provides a great diagram in “The 8th Habit” (the follow-up book to the 7 Habits), which is used to explain the different levels of initiative that people generally exercise in their jobs, depending on their level of responsibility and power.

Moving up these steps progressively increases people’s trust in you and will tend to positively impact their willingness to give you more responsibility.

This diagram is a great tool to share with new employees (and especially young graduates) as part of their induction process.

“I Intend To” — The Captain’s Example While sailing in the Hawaiian Islands on the USS Santa Fe, a multi-billion-dollar nuclear submarine, Covey observed a captain and his crew carry out simulated war games. During the day, Covey noticed something odd. Officers would regularly approach the captain and say, “I intend to.” For example, “I intend to take the boat down to four hundred feet.” The captain would sometimes ask questions in reply or simply say “Very well.” When Covey asked the captain about his leadership style, he explained that he wanted to empower his people as far as possible within the confines of the naval context. The idea was to have people operate with a “solutions first” mind-set, and never come to a supervisor with a problem without first considering the best options and alternatives. Instead, they should always think through the best solution, coming fully prepared to carry it out.

“I intend to” is different in kind than “I recommend.” The person has done more analytical work, to the point that he is totally prepared to carry out the action. They have owned not only the problem but the solution as well. The sailors had a real sense of adding value — and of being trusted — something they had not had with other skippers when they’d been merely in a “Wait until told” mode.

What mode do you generally operate from?

Assess What Makes Your Greatest Employee: Talent is a combination of many factors, one of which is behaviour, another is our personal values, another is our level of emotional intelligence. With the TTI TriMetrix EQ profile, you can pinpoint the specific list of talents that are required for success in any role that has a job description.

Spread the word!
Harvey James

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