Before analyzing proactivity in regards to leadership, first of all let’s see what proactivity or a proactive person is like. According to the busienssdictionary.com proactivity is – “Action and result oriented behavior, instead of the one that waits for things to happen and then tries to adjust (react) to them.
Have you heard the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper? Let us explain the importance of proactive behavior by using this story. After reading the story, ask yourself the question: “Are you an ant or a grasshopper?”
There was once a grasshopper who loved life. He spent his time lazing in the sun, eating when he wanted to, sleeping when he wanted to, generally enjoying himself all the time. He lived like he did not have a care in the world.
One day as he was sun-bathing, he saw an ant pushing a bread crumb across the ground. The grasshopper asked, “Hey brother! What are you doing?” The ant replied, “I am gathering food for the winter while the weather is still warm. Once winter sets in, I am going to stay home and just eat from my stock of food.”
The grasshopper made fun of the ant’s dull life and went on sun bathing saying, “There’s enough time for such boring work. You should take time to have fun like me.” Soon the summer passed and the winter started to set in.
As the weather became colder, it became harder for the grasshopper to get out. However, he soon started to feel hungry. He decided to brave the weather and find himself some food.
When he stepped out, everything was covered with snow and he could not find anything to eat. He continued to search for food every day. He did not find anything. Finally, he grew weak and died of hunger.
Which of the two was Proactive? The ant of course.
What are the characteristics of Proactivity present in the ant?
- He knew himself, potentials and strengths: that he was tiny; that with the help of his teammates, there was nothing he could not achieve – it did not matter how big the morsel of food was.
- He knew the event that was coming on him: the winter and its severity.
- He knew the resources at his disposal: his teammates and time available to him in the summer.
Proactive behavior aims at identification and exploitation of opportunities and in taking preliminary action against potential problems and threats, whereas reactive behavior focuses on solving a problem after it occurs.
The same attitude should be applied also while in the position of a leader. This means that you should think ahead of your followers and make things easier for them. In this case one can foresee where their or their team members’ behaviour can lead and these leaders try to overcome the unpleasant situations and solve the problems before they actually can have their effect, rather than wait until the “volcano erupts” and is too late.
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