Disruption is keeping executives awake at night: How to handle market curve balls that come out of nowhere? How to plan for the future when your product, service or supply chain is obsolete today? How to allocate resources, train, and develop people for jobs you can’t even imagine yet?
People smarter than I have declared there’s no silver bullet for dealing with disruption. But, as you break down silos, adopt agile innovation strategies, employ enterprise risk management or business continuity management, and seize the white space, consider what research is proving may be the bronze bullet for dealing with disruption: proactive self leaders, those who have the mindset and skill set to get what they need to succeed.
Consider these recent findings:
The essential factor for the success of an organizational initiative is the proactive behavior of self leaders.
Employees with proactive self leadership skills are more likely to accept responsibility, take initiative, generate ideas, problem solve, job craft, ask for feedback, hold themselves accountable, execute strategy, understand their needs, and ask for help when appropriate.
Proactive behavior is teachable.
If you want innovation and agility, enlist the individual contributors on the front lines of the battlefield. But focusing on training individual contributors requires a shift in priorities — from a single focus on leadership training to a broadened approach that includes developing the folks on the other side of the equation.
Here are three ways to begin teaching your individual contributors the skills of proactive self leadership.
1. Set goals together.

Communicate what the organization needs to operate at an elevated level, and then collaborate on how the individual can best contribute. Help individuals to accept responsibility for the quality of their goals by teaching them how to…

  • Seek clarity if a goal isn’t specific, measurable, time-bound or trackable.
  • Negotiate if a goal isn’t attainable, relevant or fair.
  • Reframe if a goal isn’t optimally motivated to them.

You may be surprised to discover when people see what’s needed for the organization to succeed and are asked what part they want to play, they set and commit to higher goals than if you hand them their marching orders.