Neal Burgis, Ph.D.

By Neal Burgis, Ph.D.

Transitioning From Reactive to Proactive Leadership

Transitioning From Reactive to Proactive Leadership 150 150 Neal Burgis

Are you reactive or proactive in your leadership?

As a leader you will have to respond to crisis. How will you respond?  The broad difference between the reactive and proactive leader needs to be understood in order for you to realize how you can succeed far better than you think. Proactive leaders lead by example. Leaders who plan ahead are in a better position to tackle problems before they occur instead of reactively when they pop up unexpectedly.

Requiring Change Management

Leaders who want to make a lasting impact on their organization should strive for proactive, rather than reactive, leadership. Reactive leaders wait for problems to arise before addressing them, are often running from crisis to crisis, without taking away lessons to improve the organizations and processes in which they operate. Reactive leaders have actions determined by external situations. Juggling day-to-day crises can keep you away from the things that matter most in your organization. You can’t keep your focus and concentration on the specific situations you need to.

Proactive leaders, on the other hand, take responsibility for their organization by engaging and cooperating with their team, leading by example, and always looking for ways to improve.

When you are reactive typically you make decisions as if you were in a panic or crisis mode. You may not yell, scream, pound your fists on your desk or throw things yet you make quick decisions that you may regret later. Your thinking is not focused on generating the best solution to the problem or challenge of the moment and you sometimes have to revisit the problem to rework a better solution that was not thought of initially.

Being Proactive in Your Leadership

“Opportunities will come and go, but if you do nothing about them, so will you.”

― Richie Norton

Do not procrastinate or postpone decisions. Weigh each issue as to the advantages and disadvantages of what will work within your organization. Don’t just put a temporary fix on something you may forget about. See what works and what does as you ask questions and challenge traditional assumptions and beliefs.

Maintain Your Perspective

“Proactive people focus their efforts on things they can do something about. The nature of their energy is positive.” – Stephen Covey

When you look upon the crisis as a challenge, what is your frame of mind? Instead of responding by reacting, think first to understand what is in front of you. Then think of what you can do to solve the situation. This is being proactive.

When people react, it seems to be defensive. Having a calm demeanor helps you focus and concentrate on decisions that align with the strategy of your business. Being more open to solving situations and not putting a band aid on a temporary fix requires you to get to the root of the problem.  A response is more active, and it can change the direction of an interaction or situation. Able to step back from the day-to-day details and see the big picture proactive leaders can anticipate situations and plan ahead of time for any situations that may get in the way of productivity.

Inspiring Others

“Great leadership does not mean running away from reality. Sometimes the hard truths might just demoralize the company, but at times sharing difficulties can inspire people to take action that will make the situation better.”

-John Kotter

By working with employees, teams and or in brainstorm sessions, employees can listen and give feedback to leaders for the specific assignments given to them. Listening carefully without jumping to any conclusions, proactive leaders are able to see another perspective than that of their own. In doing so, working with your employees and getting their feedback and opinions demonstrates how well leaders can take criticism.

Employees work better when they respect their leader. Not knowing how the leader will respond to situations can have employees on edge. If the leader reacts to situations, most employees will try to avoid being where the leader is at. On the other hand, if an employee works with a leader who inspires the employee, then the employee will respect the leader and want to do a better job for the leader.

Every Leader Has the Power of Choice

Recognize the choices you have instead of automatically reacting to situations. Reacting happens when you don’t know what to do or don’t automatically think of any options or action steps to take to reduce or resolve the situation. When you realize you have choices you need to start doing so with other situations you encounter all the time. You will make better decisions that way.

By focusing on the positives and learning from the negatives concentrating and focusing on the things you can control is where you can start to move forward. Proactivity or proactive behavior needs anticipatory change on a consistent basis. This is aligned with today’s business creativity that helps your business thrive. Choose how to act as to the type of leader you want to be. Which one will help you succeed as a leader?

What specific actions could you take today that would make a difference no matter how small that may be?

“Stop waiting for things to happen. Go out and make them happen.” – Jane W. Lee

Share This