The difference between an outstanding manager and an ordinary one is often a matter of showing initiative – recognizing and accepting responsibility for getting things started.
To initiate means to start. Initiative is the ability to get things started. It’s the mark of a good team lead, foreman, supervisor, manager, or executive.
When something obviously needs to be done, effective managers don’t wait and see – they just act, especially if it is in their bailiwick, and they have the authority, they simply go ahead and do it. If there is any doubt whether they have the authority to act, they point out the problem, suggest action and ask for approval. If it is completely out of their area, they recommend action to those who have the authority – with a lot of tact.
The point is, if something needs to be done, the person with initiative feels a personal responsibility to do what she or he can to get it started. Others may be willing to work hard, and are just as able, but they don’t have the spark to act of their own.
Why do some managers or supervisors hesitate to take the responsibility for changing anything, for starting in new directions? There are many reasons, one of which is the fear of being blamed if something goes wrong. Another reason is that they simply don’t visualize it as a key part of their job. The attitude can be clearly seen in the actions of many newly promoted supervisor. New supervisors are suddenly thrust into the position of giving people directions, where before they have followed someone else’s. They may see themselves as a communications link between their superiors and their subordinates. The boss tells them what to do and they pass it on.
As a starting point, that may do good – but managers or supervisors who never go beyond this level aren’t doing the job that’s expected of them. Effective managers or supervisors have to be self-starters. They anticipate the needs of their job. They see what needs doing and do it without waiting to be prompted. They accept responsibility for developing new ideas and methods within the limits of their authority – without waiting to be prodded.
Summarizing, a manager or supervisor is paid to think and to start things in her/his particular area. That is what leadership is all about. It is what the company, your boss, your subordinates, and everyone else looks to you for. If you don’t do it, you are not doing your job.
It is not what you know about management that counts – IT IS WHAT YOU DO!
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