New Horizons in Management series
Chapter 1: The nature of the proactive personality
In today’s challenging workplace, high-level performance often means more than accomplishing one’s assigned responsibilities. Such performance also means being proactive about what needs to be accomplished beyond the job description, including spotting unanticipated problems and opportunities. A few years ago, Dan Akerson, the CEO of General Motors, was eager to keep the company on a sustained path of success. During a meeting with workers he urged them to be leaders and to fix problems rather than wait to be told what to do. “You shouldn’t stand around waiting for somebody to tell you where we’re going to go,” said Akerson. “We’ve got to get this company and the culture into the 21st century.” Workers with a proactive personality are inclined to engage in proactive behaviors such as seeking feedback, going beyond the job description, taking the initiative to engage in job-relevant learning, and going out to meet customers. A starting point in our study of the proactive personality and its implications for individual and organizational performance is for you to take the personality quiz presented in Figure 1.1. Taking the quiz will facilitate your thinking about the traits and behaviors frequently exhibited by the proactive person.
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