Do you really know what initiative looks like?
We all want people to have initiative. But do you know what it looks like? It's not just taking action, being proactive, or being the first mover. It's deeper than that.
We all want people to have initiative. But do you know what it looks like?
It's not just taking action, being proactive, or being the first mover. It's deeper than that. ⬇️
There is a nuance behind initiative that needs better coaching. The nuance is the intensity of initiative. Here's how I learned this.
Most people unfamiliar with tennis believe that power comes from how hard you swing the tennis racquet. Power comes from the velocity of the racquet and velocity is created by the intensity of initiative. This intensity is produced by mindset and timing.
A tennis coach of mine explained that you can either "let the racquet hit the ball" or you can choose to "make contact with the ball". This may not seem like much, but it's the difference between believing you're making something happen versus hoping something will happen. This is the mindset you have to have with initiative.
With timing, you're not gripping the tennis racquet hard through the entire swing. This is what amateurs typically do and their hands get tired. What you're supposed to do to generate power is to tighten your grip only at the moment of impact between the racquet and the ball. This is all timing.
When you combine the mindset and timing you get the right intensity of initiative.
You see this type of initiative in everything:
→ tennis players making contact vs hoping for contact (mindset); squeezing the grip at the right time (timing)
→ boxers punch with intent vs hoping to land a punch (mindset); engaging the hips at the right moment (timing)
→ musicians playing notes with purpose vs hoping something sounds right (mindset); emphasizing notes at the right time (timing)
→ basketball players hitting a fluid shot vs throwing a ball up hoping it goes in (mindset); releasing the ball at the right time in a jump (timing)
→ communicator using the right words vs hope for the right words (mindset); using pauses and tone to make the words mean more (timing)
Repeating the right kind of initiative is what produces results. The activity of initiative will always fall short over time.
In organizations, initiative is
→ having the right conversations with people (mindset) before launching something (timing)
→ gathering up the right resources (mindset) before assigning a team to execute (timing)
→ refining the articulation of a strategy (mindset) before expecting people to make accurate tradeoff decisions (timing)
→ listening to customers to identify the right problem (mindset) before investing to build a product (timing)
As a leader or coach, make sure you recognize the difference and celebrate the right kind of initiative. If your people are struggling with the mindset, educate and develop new skills. If your people are struggling with timing, paint a picture of good timing and give them opportunities to practice it.