Four ways to take the initiative

When I first started work 17 years ago (gulp), I had a great first boss in a very large corporate and to this day, I remember in my first week, he gave me a particular task to do – which took a couple of days. Once I’d completed it I presented it back to him and asked him what I should do next…

He looked puzzled. He then explained to me that was up to me… I knew what my role was – I had an idea of what needed to be done – so I should go and figure it out. That was literally on day 3 of my business career and if I’m honest, it’s shaped what I do today.

This last few weeks have been an amazing time in many ways and there have been so many examples of where I’ve had to take the initiative with a client, for a client or for a project and not once has anyone said – “you shouldn’t have done that!” because I’d like to think I’ve done it in the right way.

[box type=”info”]Ask for forgiveness rather than permission.[/box]

This is a phrase I thoroughly believe in and with a few years of working under my belt, I now feel confident enough to act on it. I appreciate in the early days of a career it’s not so easy and in a large corporate environment, it’s a scary thing to do – but if you can, then you should, as early as possible in your career – because it will get you noticed.

What happens when you take the initiative is that you start thinking and acting as if you were the client. Over time, the client starts to rely on you, you start to become part of their virtual team and what happens in the long run? They keep asking you back AND they recommend you to others.

[box type=”info”]Don’t wait to be asked – just do it.[/box]

Often by the time you’ve waited for the response, it’s too late to do what you knew what was needed. So much in life is about timing. Take calculated risks – ask yourself what’s the worst that could happen. You’ll be amazed by the response you’ll get. If 1 in 100 times you get reprimanded in some way – has it been worth the risk? Of course!

Bearing this all in mind – there are four phrases you might want to try with your clients. They work either written of verbal.

  • I though it made sense to [put X into action] – I hope this is OK with you – if not, then let me know and I’ll [switch it off.]
  • I wanted to seize the initiative and get [X on board]. If I don’t hear back from you in [the next 24 hours] – I’ll go ahead with that plan and make it happen for you.
  • As time is so critical on this project – I needed to [do something in particular] which I know may not have been ideal – but it was the best way of ensuring [we continue to deliver]. Hope that’s OK with you.
  • I wanted to make a suggestion – I thought would really help [generate more sales] and so we’ve mocked up an example we thought you might like to see – if you like it, we can have it up and running in [an hour/day/week/month].

Describing a concept leaves many people cold, and so that last example is brilliant – clients and targets so often DO NOT like clean sheets of paper. If you can explain something visually for little effort then do it, and put it in front of them.

Now, stop reading and go and take the initiative!

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