How to take more initiative at work


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

Successful young business woman

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.


What does it mean to be a self-starter?

Getting things done. Taking responsibility. Making the first move. Being ready for action.

We’ve probably all heard these phrases in the work environment. 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, those who tackle challenges selflessly even if they don’t affect them. The results of their hard work mean positive outcomes for the business.

Business people discussing work

With that in mind, what can you do to become a self-starter who’s in control of using their initiative?

How can we take more initiative at work? 

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, the self-starter looks at a challenge as a new opportunity to prove themselves. Use upcoming challenges as 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, a ‘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.

Business men shaking hands

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 – 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.

Using initiative in the long term

When you use initiative at work, there’s an inherent point you’re making: you want to stand out from the rest. And standing out in the right way translates to things like progress, pay rises and promotions.

Using initiative and having a long-term career plan often go hand in hand. Professionals who have an idea of what they want and where they want to go are far more likely to demonstrate taking the initiative, especially in instances when it could help them further their career.

This means it’s not merely enough to understand you own job, a grasp of your team and your organisation’s purpose is a good idea too, as it helps you to know what you should be achieving. From here, you’ll have something to work towards professionally.

Click here for the latest news and features from SEFE Marketing & Trading or visit our homepage to find out about our latest career opportunities.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of SEFE Marketing & Trading. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. SEFE Marketing & Trading accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.