Proactivity and Responsibility

Posted on May 25, 2010


Personal Management, photo from

What puts a leader where he is? Specifically, what leadership traits of a leader earn him the right to instruct and lead and manage? As leaders or managers, what traits do we possess that got us here in the first place?

While the answers to the above questions are numerous and vary between circumstances, I believe that an undeniable leadership trait that is fundamental to being a good leader or manager is responsibility. Be it in schools or the workplace, responsibility is very much emphasized, and those who have demonstrated their capabilities in handling responsibility well are then vested the trust by the people and the management to hold a certain appointment, to be in-charge of a particular aspect of the organisation’s growth.

What then, is the limit to responsibility? Is being able to follow orders and execute it well all there is to responsibility? I believe that we all would not think so, and this leads to the next concept, the topic of this discussion, which is the leadership trait of proactivity.

First, let us examine what is proactivity. Proactivity may be seen as the initiative to complete tasks and solve problems before they are due, or before they arise, leading to a smooth functioning of operations. An analogy of it would be vaccination. Rather than experiencing a virus and combating it subsequently, one may opt to take a vaccine for the particular disease, such as Hepatitis, so as to prevent the disease from happening in the first place.

While being irresponsible does not mean one is not proactive, not being proactive would render one irresponsible. This is evident as for a leader to be responsible, he most certainly have to think ahead of issues and constantly pre-empt problems. Examples include pre-empting potential problems with specific course of actions, and taking steps to circumvent such issues.

This also means always looking for something to improve. It involves being creative, constantly looking for new ideas and thoughts, new ways to get ahead of competitors and new ways of working. A crucial attitude must be to realise that there’s always something to improve on.

It is also important not to get stuck in the mentality of “things are already good as they are”.  For we must realise that what we are currently doing gives us the results we currently have. Unless we are totally and absolutely satisfied with what we have now, something ought to change to improve that result. Even if we are content with the present results, bear in mind that factors that are beyond our control are always at work, such as change of consumer interest, increasingly competitive competitors, and being satisfied is the sure path to failure.

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