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42 Examples of Initiative

Initiative is the practice of taking action without being asked. This is a component of work ethic and self-direction that goes beyond relatively passive actions such as making suggestions. Initiative delivers work and solves problems. The following are illustrative examples.
A customer service representative who walks a customer to their destination when they ask where a product can be found.
A manager who dives into the details to help to solve a problem.
Advocating for customers to push internal teams to fix a design flaw in a product.
Approaching customers in your store when they look like they might need help.
Cleaning up the kitchen when you know your parents are busy.
Coming in early to prepare for an important meeting.
Creating a template that improves the quality of your team's deliverables.
Demonstrating a high level of professionalism above the minimum expectations in your team (e.g. sending out a detailed meeting agenda in advance of your meetings).
Developing a report and presenting it to executives.
Focusing on homework for hours at a time without any pressure from parents.
Founding a school club.
Founding a small business based on an original idea.
Helping someone to recover from a major mistake at work.
Identifying a risk and implementing mitigations that reduce that risk.
Identifying and fixing a safety issue on a job site before someone gets hurt.
Introducing new customers to your firm from your previous professional contacts.
Keeping in touch with a customer to make sure they are still satisfied with your services.
Leading the direction of a classroom discussion and actively supporting the ideas of others.
Noticing that someone seems isolated and trying to include them.
Organizing a messy retail shelf without being asked.
Performing maintenance before equipment fails.
Pitching a project to senior managers and developing a business case when they show interest.
Providing a low performer with immediate feedback and support to get back on track.
Pushing into an important project or initiative.
Putting in extra effort on a school project such that you do more than is required out of interest.
Reaching out to express condolences to a coworker who has lost a love one.
Reaching out to inform a key customer about a planned maintenance that might affect them.
Reaching out to keep in touch with old friends.
Setting aggressive goals that are beyond what your manager expects.
Shoveling the driveway of an elderly neighbor after a big snow fall.
Starting up conversations and networking to build relationships.
Stepping in to help a coworker troubleshoot a problem.
Taking classes in your spare time to improve in your profession.
Taking on action items and delivering them (it is common to try to avoid action items).
Taking on new responsibilities when your team is short handed.
Volunteering to organize team events.
Volunteering to present at a conference on behalf of your team.
When someone asks you something you don't know -- research an answer and get back to them.
Working long hours without being asked when you are needed to solve a problem.
Working to directly clear a project issue.
Working to resolve the root cause of a problem after the symptoms have been addressed.
Writing a script in an hour that saves your team several hours each week.

Initiative in a Job Interview

When asked for an example of initiative in a job interview take care to select an example that is active and self-directed but somewhat within the expectations of your role. Firms may be hesitant to hire individuals who try to work above their job level (e.g. solving executive management problems when you are an entry level staff). Avoid passive examples such as making suggestions and examples that don't map to business results such as implementing more rules for the office kitchen.


This is the complete list of articles we have written about productivity.
Hawthorne Effect
Increased Productivity
Labor Intensive
More With Less
Parkinsons Law
Personal Productivity
Productivity Benefits
Productivity Mgmt
Quality Of Work
Respect For Time
Schedule Compression
Time Boxing
Time Efficiency
Time Sink
Work Habits
Work Management
Work Output
Work Productivity
Work Tasks
Zeigarnik Effect
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