Proactive leadership

Make people less hesitant and reluctant to execute on their responsibilities. Make people feel better equipped, supported and more capable to do their best work. Get more grateful and loyal team members.

"Bosses will demand you work harder. Leaders will empower you to work smarter."

This skillset is also available in Norwegian

Kopier til din organisasjon

Flere ressurser som denne?

Sjekk ut disse utviklingsprogrammene: Modern leadership , Scaling an organization

I understand what is meant by reactive leadership

Reactive leadership is focused on putting out the fires in the organization, by solving problems and making decisions whenever there is a specific need to do so.

Reactive leaders primarily react to circumstances and make decisions based on gut feeling.

Reactive leaders belive that the essence of leadership is managing and exerting control over others, and that the best thing they can do for their team is get out of their way.

I understand the what is meant by proactive leadership

Proactive leadership is focused on preventing the fires starting in the organization, by planning and setting aside time for the focus areas of proactive leadership.

Proactive leaders primarily stay ahead and make data-driven decisions.

Proactive leaders belive that the essence of leadership is enabling people to to their best work, and that the best thing they can do for their team is to provide them with a healthy combination of support and accountability.

I know what a proactive leader is trying to accomplish

A proactive leader is working to ensure that everyone have what they need to do a great job, by improving the availability of role clarity, goal clarity and support.

I know the what a proactive leader is focused on

A proactive leader is focused on enabling people to do a great job. This involves a continuous focus on the:

  • Facilitation
  • Alignment
  • Focus
  • Development, and
  • Support

...of the people in their team.

Practically speaking, a proactive leader works continuously to ensure that the team:

  1. Have the tools and insight they need to do great and autonomus work.
  2. Are on the same page and pulling in the same direction with regards to where the team is going and their role in getting there.
  3. Know what to focus on, both in the short, medium and long term.
  4. Knows what their weaknesses are and which specific steps they can take in order to improve upon them.
  5. Are checked in with in order to provide assistance and accountability in making progress towards their priorities and development potential.
I can recognize a proactive leader

A proactive leader can be recognized by the fact that she reflects the

  • Mindset
  • Behaviours, and
  • Priorities

...of proactive leadership on a day-to-day basis.

In concrete terms, this means that the leader is aware of how she distributes her time between development and operational work, and that she is protective of the time distribution she believes is appropriate based on the organization's current needs and her role in it.

I understand the benefits of practicing proactive leadership

Practicing proactive leadership produces a multitude of benefits for both yourrself and your team:

Personal benefits

  • You will feel less stressed and worried because you have better control and overview
  • You gradually free up more of your own time and capacity because you manage to identify and address issues before they blow up.
  • You build stronger relationships and make team members become more grateful and loyal to you (which usually translates to them staying longer with you and your team).
  • You feel like you make a difference in people's lives and experience your leadership role as more meaningful.
  • You feel better about yourself and your work as a leader (inverted: you feel less guilty about not being sufficiently available to your team).
  • The time you spend on leadership is more predictable because it is largely planned out in advance.

Team benefits

  • Your team becomes more effective and efficient because you proactively identify what's holding them back.
  • You get more out of each individual because you drive them towards being their best.
  • You cultivate and better utilize the potential of ambitious employees.
  • You reduce friction and can more easily predict and nip potential issues in the bud.
I know what makes proactive leadership challenging

In our workplaces today, it is very easy to be reactive. Within minutes, your calendar can fill up with meetings initiated by others, leaving you precious little time to do any actual work.

Urgent requests land on your desk, requiring you and your team to rush to complete them. People start screaming and you need to scramble to make them stop.

Being reactive is easy, because you just ride the wave that other people have created for you. Proactive leadership takes work, because you need to carve out time in your day to focus on it.

I am familiar with the justifications commonly used for reactive leadership

Leaders with a reactive leadership style typically hold one or more of the following viewpoints/beliefs:

  • I believe in a hands-off approach to leadership (giving people individual freedom and getting out of people's way)
  • I don't have enough time/I try to spend as little time as possible managing people
  • I don't think people need leaders (anymore)
  • I consider my main job to be delivering (not leading)
  • The people who report to me are highly capable and don't need to be managed
  • If I start asking people what they need, it will only result in more work for me, and I'm already swamped
I know why there aren't more proactive leaders

If proactive leadership is so amazing, you might wonder why there aren't more leaders practicing it.

Here are some of the reasons why proactive leadership isn't more widespread:

  • Leaders are unfamiliar with the concept of proactive leadership.
  • Many leaders have learned what leadership entails by observing other leaders, and since few of them practice a proactive leadership style, few understand what it looks like.
  • Few leaders have access to systems helping them to measure their ability to enable, align, focus, develop and support others.
  • The leaders and advisors of leaders aren't making them aware of and holding them accountable to practicing proactive leadership.
I understand the concepts relevant for proactive leadership 9

When we work, it's easy to get caught up in the details and the familiar, and not see the bigger picture.

Focus mode describes the zoom level through which you think about and organize your work.

Common zoom levels (from more detailed to more holistic) are:

  1. My tasks
  2. My priorities and development
  3. The priorities and development of the team
  4. The direction and development of the organization

Most people have a tendency to spend too much time in more detailed focus modes, and not enough time on the more holistic focus modes that their roles require of them.

For instance:

  • A team member may only be focused on their own tasks, whereas they should be focused on identifying and working more holistically on both their priorities and potential.
  • A team leader may be focused on their own work, whereas they should be more focused on supporting and enabling others.
  • An organizational leader may be focused on managing operational details, whereas they should be more focused on direction and organizational development.

Data-driven development means using data instead of hunches to decide where and how you prioritize your development efforts, and to evaluate the impact of those efforts.

Explore the concept of data-driven development

Organizational clarity is the degree to which the employees of the organization understand why the organization exists, where it's going, and their role in achieving objectives and impacting the mission.

Explore the concept of organizational clarity

Insight management is the process of proactively and deliberately organizing insight to ensure the best return on investment of the intellectual capital available to an organization.

Insight management means writing useful stuff down and making it easily available to others who might find it useful.

Explore the concept of insight management

Organizational anatomy is the identification and description of the structures that make up an organization.

Where human anatomy describes the human systems/organs, their purpose and how they fit together, organizational anatomy describes the organizational mechanisms (i.e. roles, responsibilities, processes, etc) their purpose and how they fit together.

Explore the concept of organizational anatomy

Organizational friction is the friction that workers encounter when trying to do their jobs, or when trying to change the way that their jobs are performed.

The amount of organizational friction impacts how quickly the organization can move, the rate of change and how much efforts needs to be applied in order to get stuff done.

Explore the concept of organizational friction

A team playbook is a description of how a team organizes its work and what they have realized about their work so far.

It explains where the team is going, how it plans to get there and how the team is doing.

Explore the concept of team playbook

When sometning goes wrong in an organization, we can think about these failures as organizational bugs.

Organizational bugs are like a software/product bug in that an interaction with the product (in this case the organization) in a given context produces an outcome which is unexpected or undesirable.

In order to correctly identify organizational failures as bugs, there needs to be a blame-free culture throughout the organization.

Explore the concept of organizational bugs

An expectation is a strong belief that something will happen or will be the case.

When we talk about expectation design in the context of the organization, we are talking about the awareness and deliberate action of articulating clear and fair expectations of various role holders within the organization.

Explore the concept of expectation design

I am familiar with tools designed to practice proactive leadership

The Wecomplish platform is designed around the concepts and behaviours associated with proactive leadership, and aims to collect and organize the data you need to properly support your team members and develop the organization.


Organizational development Leadership stages Leadership support and enablement Leadership development

Management Organizational development Leadership stages Team management Organizational health Leadership support and enablement Leadership development

Executive roles Leadership stages Leadership support and enablement Leadership development