How to take more initiative at work

Individuals who show they’re self-starters are as in-demand as ever, but it’s an area many professionals may not have much experience.



When you are hitting targets and achieving KPIs, you have a choice – continue on this path, or strive for more and demonstrate the initiative and leadership skills that are so important to businesses. Individuals who show they’re self-starters are as in-demand as ever, but it’s an area many professionals may not have much experience.

As organisations and businesses change, you need to make sure you can adapt, be fluid with your workloads, assert yourself when necessary and learn from past errors. When a business develops, so too should you.

Here, we’ll examine what it means to be a self-starter, how to grow within your role, and tips for increasing initiative in the workplace.


Initiative and self-starter – a few definitions


Getting things done. Taking responsibility. Making the first move. Being ready for action. We’ve all heard these phrases in work environments. Perhaps you’ve even described yourself as possessing these qualities. In that case, congratulations – you’ve probably used some initiative while at work.

A self-starter is someone who uses their own initiative to get things done. They’re driven, motivated, positive and never shy away from challenges. These are the people that businesses favour, the workers no team should be without, and tackle challenges selflessly even if they don’t affect them. The result of their hard work means positive outcomes for the business.

With that in mind, what can you do to become a self-starter who uses their initiative?


Accept challenges readily


Shrinking into the background in the face of oncoming challenges is the opposite of what we’re talking about here. Instead of something to be feared, a challenge presents a new opportunity to prove yourself, giving you a chance to show your team and managers how you’d do things your way.

There’s certainly an element of self-promotion to the self-starter, so be sure to keep this in mind when a big task is on its way.


Positivity is key


Confidence and positivity are the lifeblood of the self-starter. Integral to instilling team spirit in others, as well as giving yourself a boost, that ‘can do’ attitude always goes the extra mile. Keep your self-expectancy high, slumping into work after you’ve left your positivity at home isn’t helping anyone.


Use your work to your advantage


Similar to the first point, your work is what you make of it. How can you tailor your responsibilities and how can they be filtered into things like goals, opportunity and plans? Much like how a shark has to keep moving to survive, letting a job stagnate through not acting on things is a sure way to diminish progression.

What unique skills do you have that others might not? How can you use them to make an impact? Turn the situation towards yourself – it’s there for the taking.


Go above and beyond


Stand out from the rest. After your designated tasks have been completed, go back for seconds. There’s always more to be done and there’s plenty of opportunities to be the exception. Make sure your efforts are visible, but ensure your results are hitting the mark. Lots of work and missing targets does not a good worker make.


Don’t be afraid to fail


If you haven’t tried, how will you know you’ve failed? There’s an inherent amount of risk in taking the initiative in a way, after all you’re employing what you think is right as opposed to the tried and tested methods your business suggests. But that’s no reason not to try. Ask all the questions you need to, get creative with your solutions, be prepared for everything and make sure you use any setback as a lesson.

Using your initiative and growing as a professional is not a one-step process, it is a continuous curve – and everything you experience in the workplace should be used to your benefit next time. Document where you’ve been successful, and where less so, and use this to refine your approach in the future.


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