I have written previously some insights lifted from Covey’s book, The 8th Habit, about finding your own voice (your calling) and teaching others to find their voice too. I decided to dig further inside the book and discovered the 7 levels of initiative that we can develop so that we can be empowered in our respective workplaces. John Maxwell said, “Leadership is influence”. Therefore, we can still become great leaders in whatever position we are in. Even if we are subordinates we can contribute our ideas to those in high positions if we have the initiative and we are empowered.
The first level is to “Wait until told”. This is where, I think, we all start. We are passive about our work at this level. We will just be waiting for any task that will be assigned to us before we do the actual work. At this point, the way I look at it, there is no initiative at all. There is nothing wrong with being passive as a new employee but when we stay at this level for a very long time, there can be some problem somewhere. It could conveniently be considered as a comfort zone free from risks and from the fear of the unknown but it impedes personal growth and development. The excitement, the magic and success is found outside the comfort zone.
Second, “Ask”. As the person progresses in his initiative, he will begin to ask for work to do even outside his job description. A person with an initiative is not satisfied just doing what he was assigned to do. He finds fulfillment in volunteering his services for other errands. They are the ones who have the potential to proceed to the next level.
Third, “Make a Recommendation”. The person will no longer just do his job at this level but he becomes a critical thinker and is confident enough to recommend what needs to be done.
Fourth, “I intend to”. Here, the person does not merely recommend but he is already empowered to make decisions on what he thinks its best at his level and not wait for the manager to decide.
Fifth, “Do it and report immediately”. The person at this level can already act on what he thinks its best and let the manager know as soon as possible in order for the manager to always be informed of what subordinates are doing.
Sixth, “Do it and report periodically”. There is a high level of trust by the manager at this point to his subordinate. The manager expects the employees to be responsible in performing their jobs without being reminded but the former is still informed.
Seventh, “Do it”. This is the highest level of initiative where you are expected to do your job with excellence because you are already an expert and empowered.
In our effort to professionalize the management of co-ops, we recommend these 7 levels of initiative to the management and staff. If we want to achieve excellence and in order to break through hindrances and limitations, we need personnel who progresses in their initiative and the way they look at their work.