Monday, 18 May 2015

Responsibility and initiative


demonstrate the ability to take ownership of tasks and show

initiative in order to achieve their effective completion


Demonstrating initiative in your personal or professional life can help indicate to an employer that you have the skills needed to be hired or promoted. Your initiative may even allow you to set up your own business.   Here is a link to a dictionary definition of what the word initiative means and here is another definition of the word initiative.

Initiative is a leading action, where you don't wait to be told what to do. It is the ability to motivate yourself to follow through with a plan or task. Demonstrating your initiative can involve self-directed learning to help you achieve your goal.

To demonstrate initiative, is a key leadership skill. Here is a video showing you some of the leaps in our society and world as a result of initiative:

3 Traits of Great Leaders - Execution, Perseverance, and Initiative (motivational video) 

 Uploaded by on 16 Feb 2011

For most of us, how we demonstrate our initiative, even in a small way, at work or at college or even in your personal life can help us improve our current situation. It may be something like fixing a photocopier, printer at work without being told to do so, dealing with customer enquiries when other work colleagues are absent, delegating work to help maintain control over a situation, working on a team building exercise, writing a report on something you were never asked to do, staying calm and helping to control an argument until it reaches a positive outcome for both parties, or inventing new ideas for how to work more effectively in an organisation.

Quiet Desperation

How do you show initiative? Can you give an example? How could that demonstration of initiative help you in your personal and professional development?

Here is an example of how many people have demonstrated positive initiative in their workplace if you just click on this link.

You have probably heard the phrase "thinking outside the box". To think outside the box is setting yourself apart from everyone else. You are seeing a problem a different way. Maybe you see a problem or a threat as an opportunity?


Class Exercise
As a class exercise to develop our initiative skills we are going to engage in a survival exercise. Look at the video below first to get an idea of the scenario we are going to roleplay. It is a 1 minute clip of the TV show Lost.

Crash Oceanic 815 # Lost

Uploaded by on 20 Feb 2008

  • The scenario we are going to roleplay is our plane has crashed on a remote island on a beach somewhere.
  • You need to as a group decide from the plane wreckage what the 12 most important items are in order to survive (as you have no idea where you are or how long it will take you to get rescued)
  • Try to reach consensus without voting 
  • Everyone in the group must at least partially agree with what is on the final list.
  • Watch and see if any group members have changed their minds to come to agreement
  • Watch and see if any group members need the answers to be 100% accurate.
  • Watch and see if any group members minimally contribute to the discussion.
  • You have 15 minutes to decide on the 12 most important items to survive                                                                                                                                                                                  
  •  Afterwards write down what you learned from the exercise
Responsibility, accomplishments and ownership of tasks

With initiative comes responsibility. We are often more hesitant to admit our failures if we are responsible for something that went wrong. What if we took the initiative with something and it failed? If you own your own business, if you are studying for your exams, if you have come up with a new idea at work that you want implemented, you are responsible for it.

Click the link for a definition of responsibility as well as this other link

Often at work it is easy to fall into the blame game to deflect a negative perception others may potentially have about ourselves. However admitting responsibility for something that went wrong can also be something positive. Facing up to our mistakes and learning from them can be a key to our drowth and development.

Often a fear of responsibility can put some people off certain tasks eg presentations in front of a group of people. You are responsible for it and that may make you nervous.

Responsibility can also be a very rewarding role to have. People are listening and perhaps even trusting what you say. You are in charge of something or someone which can have rewards or consequences.

Another word for responsibilities which can demonstrate more positivity is accomplishments. Accomplishments are what you have achieved. In a CV you need to be able to sell yourself. So, what have you accomplished?

Here is a definition of the word accomplishment as well as at the link here. Accomplishments are something which is achieved successfully. For example, perhaps you have accomplished enough money saved to purchase a car. Now you are responsible for it.

Your accomplishments don't have to have changed the world to matter mentioning them. They can be things like regular daily duties at work or duties you wouldn't usually have. Accomplishments are when hurdles are overcome and goals are reached. For example maybe you took many phone calls at work and helped to represent the company, maybe you worked on a particular project and reached a goal you had. Are there any statistics, figures or numbers you can use to back up your claims? What skills do you have for each job you worked at? What did you accomplish from your work experience?

Class Exercise
As a class exercise to develop our initiative skills we are going to engage in a exercise which looks at responsibility. 
  • Get in groups of 5.
  • Create a variety of obstacles in the class to walk around.
  • Blindfold one member of the group.
  • The rest of the group must take turns guiding each blindfolded member across the classroom
  • Once everyone in the group has taken the blindfolded member across the room, decide on who is next to be blindfolded
  • Take 10 minutes until everyone has been blindfolded once
  • Afterwards write down what you learned from the exercise
The following  video below is a good example of using initiative, taking responsibility for yourself and making your own decisions. The advert is from a Pantene commercial made in Thailand about a deaf and mute girl who learns to play the violin.

Extraordinary Pantene Commercial 




1- For next week, prepare for a question which asks you to give an example of where you have shown initiative 

2- Give an example of where you have taken ownership of a task


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