Proactive Leadership

proactiveIf you don’t read Seth Godin’s blog, I highly recommend it to you.  He posts regularly and on a variety of topics like marketing, advertising, leadership, sales, business, and more.  Today’s post really resonated with me – it was about reacting vs. responding.

Seth writes, “We can react or respond, as my friend Zig used to say. When we react to a medicine, that’s a bad thing. When we respond, it’s working.”

Think about that for a minute in the context of leadership.  As a leader, I choose whether I will react to something or respond to it.  My experience has been that far too often, my default seems to be reacting.

Whether it’s an email that I receive, a comment made to me, or an action that someone around me takes, my default response seems to be to live in reaction mode, simply reacting to the actions or words of others.

That’s not leading.

As a leader, my responsibility and yours is to lead proactively – that’s how we respond to the circumstances around us.  Not simply reacting to what others say or do, but proactively leading, determining in advance our course of action and staying laser focused on the vision and mission.  That’s how we lead best.

If we choose to live in reaction mode, we are at the mercy of those around us.  And that’s no way to lead.  Leaders see what could be; they have a picture of the preferred future in mind, and they pursue it diligently and proactively, leading the charge, not just reacting to what others might say or do.

One of my habits at year’s end is to reflect on the year – what went right?  What didn’t?  What do I need to start doing to get different results?  What do I need to stop doing?  That kind of evaluation leads me into a proactive stance to begin the year, and I’ve found that to be inordinately helpful.  If you’re not in the habit of doing such a review, try it this year, and see how this habit works for you.

Leaders choose to be reactive or proactive.  What’s an area where you want to be more proactive in 2015?