New Horizons in Management series
Chapter 3: Initiative as part of the proactive personality
Workplace initiative is intertwined with proactivity. One could argue that a person with a proactive personality frequently takes the initiative, or that a person who takes the initiative is being proactive. A useful definition of workplace initiative based on a composite of viewpoints is that personal initiative refers to a behavioral pattern of individuals who take an active, self-starting approach to work. Ronald Bledow and Michael Frese explain similarly that personal initiative is an active performance concept emphasizing that workers self-start to accomplish positive individual and organizational outcomes. Given that initiative and proactivity are close to being the same thing, it follows that initiative is perceived to be a sought-after employee quality. As one example, interviews were conducted with several Pittsburgh executives to uncover the key traits they seek in potential hires as well as internal candidates for promotion. The critical success factor most often mentioned was initiative. Furthermore, Robert E. Kelley writes that demonstrating initiative is the most powerful work skill for bridging the chasm between the average worker and the super-productive worker. Newcomers to an organization are quickly judged on whether they go beyond their specific responsibilities and take the initiative.
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