• Voluntarily takes the first steps to identify and address existing and potential obstacles, issues, and opportunities
Proficiency Levels – What it looks like
Being Developed
Volunteers to undertake activities within capability Volunteers to undertake tasks that stretch capability Seeks out new challenges that require risk taking Describes future scenarios and related opportunities Integrates future and conflicting scenarios and opportunities
Asks questions and gathers information prior to taking on new tasks Identifies who can provide support and procures their input Determines the resources, team support, and technical needs necessary to enable success and procures them Plans potential responses involving resource holders, peers, processes, and technology Directs planning for potentially significant outcomes and contingency plans
Seeks help where challenged in trying something new Identifies problems and acts to prevent and solve them Keeps responding to the challenge in spite of obstacles and setbacks Leads a timely response, seeking internal/external advice and consultation, and sustains progress through uncharted territories Identifies areas of high risk
Procures significant commitment of organizational resources, involving resource owners, organizational leaders, core business processes, and technologies
Leads step-by-step, long-term responses, seeking and evaluating input from authoritative sources
Sustains progress in unprecedented strategic directions while maintaining superior ongoing performance

What it Doesn’t Look Like

  • Keeping discoveries or ideas for improvement to oneself
  • Continuing to follow a plan regardless of changes
  • Doing only what is required or expected
  • Seeing what needs to be done and not acting on it
  • Focusing on what comes along vs. priorities
  • Waiting for prompting or permission before taking action on something within ones span of influence

Questions to Consider

  • How effective are my work goals at challenging me to achieve results or reach beyond?
  • What additional information, skills or resources do I require to be effective?
  • What could I take on to bring greater variety to my work or to further challenge myself?
  • What feedback do I require to know I am appropriately stretching boundaries?
  • How can I learn more about the big picture so I can discover other opportunities to contribute?
  • How can I be more effective at anticipating situations and responding proactively?

Learning and Development Activities

Choose one or two activities that support your preferred learning style

Select activities by learning style
Doing Listening Observing Training Reading

(By clicking on the symbol, those activities relating to the learning style will appear)


Suggestions for activities you can do on the job


  • Sometimes our willingness to embrace new tasks or opportunities can throw our work plan off balance. Plan, prioritize and schedule your work ensuring important items are attended to first. As other tasks surface, consider where they fit in the scheme of other responsibilities and address these new tasks accordingly.
  • Write down 3-5 tasks you perform on a regular and on-going basis. Identify one or two new approaches or methods for each that will improve your efficiency. Incorporate these new strategies into your work.
  • Consider your individual needs and values and how they relate to your work in terms of commitment, drive, initiative and achievement. What differences do you observe where alignment exists in your work with your needs and values and where it is weak?

With Peers

  • Discuss processes or procedures in your work unit that could be improved. Record what isn’t working or isn’t working well. For each process/procedure identify three to five actions that would bring improvement. Choose which process/procedure to work on first and divide and assign actions to bring improvement. Next month, discuss resulting improvement and which process/procedure to improve next. Make this a monthly activity.

With your Manager/Team Lead

  • Share your individual needs and values and how they relate to your work in terms of commitment, drive, initiative and achievement.
  • Discuss approaches for dealing with situations with which you have little control or influence, but affect your work.
  • Present ideas for improvement. Ask for feedback to ensure your ideas are aligned with overall objectives. Secure the support you require to take action for improvement.
Listening and Observing

Here are some ideas that can be pursued on the job, with some coordination. Use these reflective questions to gain more from your learning experience:

    • What are three key things I have learned from this experience?
    • What will I do differently in my work as a result of this experience?
  • Next time you are watching a movie or show, take note of which characters take initiative and which do not. What characteristics describe those who do take initiative and those who do not?
  • Ask someone who appears to accomplish a great deal what they attribute their success to? Do they mention goal setting, flexibility, open-mindedness, persistence, drive for achievement, and or other characteristics?
Training Programs
  • UBC Training Programs offered through Organization Development and Learning
  • Cultivating Intuition
  • Mind Mapping
  • The Inspired Workplace

For UBCO course offerings, please visit the Events page.

Consider working with a coach following training, to aid in anchoring your learning:


Choose to read one or two of the books listed below. Consider the reflective questions to enhance your learning:

    • What are the key points the author is making?
    • What are three key things I have learned from this reading?
    • What will I do differently in my work as a result of gaining this knowledge?


  • 1001 Ways to Take Initiative at Work; (1999), B. Nelson; Workman Publishing Company. This book discusses how to take ownership of ones job and manage up. It presents ideas through case studies, examples, quotes, research highlights, and a variety of techniques and exercises to illustrate how to develop self-leadership, set goals, create learning opportunities, take risks, and sell ideas
  • Please Don’t Just Do What I Tell You, Do What Needs to Be Done: Every Employee’s Guide to Making Work More Rewarding; (2001), R. B. Nelson; Hyperion. The book discusses how to take the initiative and make one’s job better or one’s customers happier. The basic point is one of empowerment: think bigger, figure out what needs to be done beyond the confines of your job description and do it.

Managers/Team Leads

  • Developing the Leader Within You; (2005), J.C. Maxwell; Thomas Nelson. This book examines the differences between leadership styles, and outlines principles for inspiring, motivating, and influencing others. These principles can be used in any organization to foster integrity and self-discipline and bring a positive change. The book also shows readers how to develop the vision, value, influence, and motivation required of successful leaders.
  • Zapp! The Lightning of Empowerment: How to Improve Productivity, Quality, and Employee Satisfaction; (1997) W. Byham & J. Cox; Ballantine Books. In this motivating book, you will find specific strategies designed to help you encourage responsibility, acknowledgment, and creativity so that employees feel they “own” their jobs. It’s all here, in an accessible guide for the successful managers of tomorrow.

Additional Questions

Please contact your Human Resources Representative with any additional questions.

Summary of Links