Is there a lot of urgency in your workplace? Are you a Reactive Leader – reacting quickly to problems and finding solutions? Or are you a Proactive Leader – having the luxury of time to contemplate at leisure all the issues to a problem – working on both the short and long-term – focused on the big picture?
A Proactive Leader tends to be much more focused on achieving performance objectives rather than focused on finding and fixing problems; that is the forte of the Reactive Leader. Unfortunately the seeming urgency of the problems that come up day-in and day-out perpetuate the fire-fighting mode of the Reactive Leader.
Reactive vs Proactive: The Mindset Difference
|Reactive Leader||Proactive Leader|
|Needs to have and use own answers||→||Understands the power of and uses team in solving problems|
|Is tell oriented||→||Is coaching oriented|
|Makes decisions by self||→||Requests that team members make decisions|
|Pushes for Results||→||Shares a vision so compelling the team wants to move towards it|
|Reacts to change||→||Foresees and influences change|
|Teaches team to expect direction||→||Teaches team to be self-reliant|
|Is concerned about self first||→||Models team work and concern for greater good|
|Produces reports first||→||Creates and communicates values first|
|Is afraid of losing control||→||Knows giving up control yields the best outcomes|
|Focuses on finding and fixing problems||→||Focuses on achieving performance outcomes|
|Quick to punish for mistakes||→||Helps team to learn from errors|
|Uses rules to make decisions||→||Uses principles to make decisions|
Take Action: Complete this Reactive-Proactive exercise:
- Using the scale at the bottom decide where you lay on the continuum
- You can then judge if you need/want to undertake some self-improvement to move your style of leadership
- Decide which, if any, of these attributes you chose to focus on and improve your capability in would have the greatest impact on your team achieving its performance outcomes
- In what ways could you make improvements in these areas?
- What specific action could you take TODAY that would make a difference?
There is certainly a time and place for a Reactive Leadership style just as there is a time and place for a Proactive Leadership style. If the plane is about to crash, the last thing any of us would want the captain to do, is to gather his/her team around him/her and ask them what they think we should do in this situation!
However, be wary of being so comfortable with the Reactive style of leadership that you get caught up in saving the plane every day. That you do not (or cannot) flex your style of leadership to the situational demands.