Demonstrating Individual Initiative Will Strengthen Your Career

These activities will help you master ‘people skills’ and enhance your reputation as a rising leader in your organization

Undertake a Personal Initiative Project that benefits the organization and isn’t part of your regular job.

Start a company newsletter, track the team safety record where everybody can see it, or update the filing system. Don’t limit yourself to tasks you can already easily handle. Consider a project that feels like a challenge to your present knowledge level and will help you master new skills.

Teach a Skill that your colleagues need.

Consider what you know that others would like to learn – perhaps a computer program, foreign language, customer relationships, or defensive driving? Arrange for a time and place, and offer an introductory course. If it catches on, you’ll have really added to your career skills resume. In addition to the recognition you get, you’ll develop great relationships with some of the learners and the preparation you invest in the class will really solidify your expertise.

Volunteer for a Special Assignment.

Serve as chairperson of the United Way drive or organize a summer picnic. Make it a project that management will feel that it reflects well on you as well as the organization. Don’t do it all by yourself – building a highly-functional team is one of the best demonstrations of leadership you can find!

Get involved in an Outside Activity that offers opportunities to expand and demonstrate administrative and planning skills.

Represent your company at Chamber of Commerce meetings or serve on a TEDx planning committee. Being an anonymous member is a good start, and gives you time to observe others’ success strategies. Eventually, you’ll want to work your way into a  leadership role.

Be an active member of a Professional  Organization where you can learn new information relevant to your industry while practicing teamwork and leadership skills.

Join a group like International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), Association for Talent Development (ATD), American Business Women’s Association (ABWA), or Toastmasters International (TI). This is a gateway to forming relationships with others in your industry – or in an industry where you’d like to grow. For a list of valuable professional organizations, click here.

Participate in a civic project to improve your Company’s Reputation in the community.

Host a business class from a local school or gather volunteers to clean up and maintain the neighborhood around your location. Participate in the Adopt a Highway program or Habitat for Humanity International. When you improve your organization’s reputation, others notice and it enhances your reputation.

Read a book each month that will help you understand how people and organizations work.

Read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven R. Covey and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.  For more helpful business books, click here. Don’t keep your reading a secret. Invite a select number of colleagues to join you for lunch or coffee after work to discuss what you read and how it can help your organization.

Meet at least every other month with your Supervisor.

Review progress on your performance improvement goals, discuss the company’s next big challenge, and/or to find out what support your supervisor could use from you.

Be alert for and take advantage of Training Opportunities.

Watch for online webinars and evening programs. Document all training received, including the training organization, instructor, and a paragraph on what you learned from each training. Make sure you get a certificate of completion from every class and turn a copy in to your human resources office.

Read publications that help you identify and track areas of Growth and Change in your industry and the economy in general.

In addition to industry-specific newsletters and magazines, follow general publications such as the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Fast Company. Send copies of meaningful articles to key members of management. Don’t come off as assuming that they don’t already know about it. Ask a relevant question and whether you may join them for a cup of coffee to get their opinion or to explore how the information might benefit your organization. Of course, that’s when you volunteer to lead an initiative to realize that benefit. You don’t have to buy a lot of subscriptions. An hour per month at the library is a wise investment in your career.