Proactivity is the Key to Boosting Performance

We are fast coming upon the end of the year and many of you will be reflecting in one of two directions: “how do I build on the fabulous momentum created by being on track or ahead of targets” or “how do I change the game in the second half so I can reach the goal by the end of the year”. Either way the answer is to unlock the precious commodity of proactivity with your staff, team or organization NOW before the rest of the year slips away.  Proactivity can help you capitalise on what is working and address the constant changes that are occurring rapidly within and around us.

Here’s an easy method for you to analyse your current position, consider what has changed externally and then how to best navigate the path ahead.


Winning is a great feeling and many of you will know well that “sweet spot” where market conditions are strong, demand is high and focused effort yields value for all parties and a path for even more winning. How easy it is to take these conditions for granted, to quite suddenly face the

opposite where the market turns, your key customer goes quiet, people problems or crisis seem to emerge out of nowhere and we have this desire to just press CONTROL, ALT, DELETE. Well perhaps the answer lies in just these three words.


We all have a raft of expectations from our many stakeholders. I recommend you do a “mini audit” to confirm your key stakeholder groups and re-clarify their top 3 needs of you or your team. Then answer how well you are satisfying these needs so far this year. A great team will satisfy most stakeholders most of the time. You will likely find there are certain key stakeholders and specific needs that are currently unmet or only partially met. Even if you are travelling well, search for the proactivity gaps that will help evolve your business or people to the next level.

Secondly assess what has changed in your market. I propose you consider three elements:

–        Your Product/Service offer

–        Your Market

–        Your Customers

You will need strategies for all three, but identifying where the “Proactive energy” and strategic focus will yield the biggest benefit can help focus your effort. Do you need to spend effort to better understand changing customer needs and preferences? Has there been a major shift in your market with competitors or regulatory changes causing pricing pressure and declining revenues? Or is there a need to better develop your brand identity, and the positioning and placement of your products? Do you need to focus on core or alternatively develop complimentary products to expand your revenue?


Having analysed your current position and where you need to be more Proactive in the market you now need to shift, to move your people, to navigate them to a higher level.

At Lighthouse, we use the NEWS Compass to show us the most effective route to take. NEWS helps clarify four high performance factors which help people step forward with proactivity. The insights generated by NEWS can then be implemented in team meetings and 1:1 Conversations to guarantee traction.

North: Creating Clarity of direction and expectations

Talking to many different people and organisations, I continue to see a heightened demand for more clarity as leaders struggle to set direction and communicate what success looks like. The result is a North Star for Reactivity. When you don’t know what great looks like, you deal with what comes at you, what is urgent, what others need from you, what is needed for survival. This is not a high performance position and will not generate the results you want. I recommend using the key stakeholder groups to help identify the specific financial, customer, team and platform outcomes that define success for the next six months.  This clarity will unleash individual and collective Proactivity.

East: Engaging higher levels of motivation

People are moved by what moves them, not necessarily by what moves you want to see. A downturn in energy, a drop in effort will indicate something has changed for the person. Typically it will be a core value for them that is not being met. Your job is to do what great people managers do: find the keys that will unlock more ownership and discretionary effort from that person.  Try to link their individual core values to specific outcomes identified in the North exercises.  Once an individual’s values are aligned to desired outcomes you will see the passion and proactivity emerge..

Initially try and pick one core value that you both believe will be the key for the next six months. If that core value was Accountability for example, you could discuss what things the person will take accountability for in a customer engagement process to lead to more proactivity. If the core value is Creativity, discuss what solutions the person will work on to help the business reach the next level.

South: Growing through Barriers

There will typically be both internal and external barriers to Proactivity. Change at its heart is challenging the comfort zones people want to stay in to remain safe, to not fail, to not look foolish. If you are Proactive as a manager or leader you can remove the impediments that are the external barriers. These will often be related to communication and decision making, like gaining approval for more resources, a new system or getting a customer across the line.

The more subtle requirement is to observe which internal mindsets the person is stuck in that manifest in Reactive behaviours and coach them to break through into a new mindset. “I’m not good enough”, “I need to be liked”, “I must follow the bosses orders without question” are typical mindsets for people who lack Proactivity. Try to identify a more helpful, Proactive mindset and, agree three ways that mindset would be exhibited by the individual.  Then commit to helping them practice that mindset and those new behaviours over the next six months. These Baby steps will help that person succeed and boost their confidence by 2-3 points.

West: Enabling Focus and Execution

I recently had a CEO say to me: “you know it’s not surprising, I have just looked at my top 50 people and their plans. All the people that are performing have good clear specific goals. Those that are not performing either haven’t completed their plans or their goals are just not well set. Having eight goals, you will miss five. Three is the right number. Pick three enabling goals that if delivered will lay the required foundations to be on a winning pathway. Then break these down into small increments, to give quarterly and weekly focus areas and milestones.”

In order to generate more Proactivity you’ll want to hold weekly conversations with your team and each individual discussing their goal-related progress and impediments. Imagine having each person in your team clearly focused on three things that all aligned to what you need to deliver. Then see yourself discussing these three things with them every week, showing them what success looks like, helping them remove barriers and tapping into their values and motivations.


To evolve your business to the next level, you will need to evolve yourself. As Gandhi said, “be the change you want to see”. If you want proactivity you will need to be a proactive leader. This means changing your time allocations, your skills and your demonstrated values. Really valuing your team’s achievement and showing you value individual growth by investing time in coaching conversations would be a powerful demonstration of Proactive leadership. Honing your skills in business acumen, communication, team leadership, and coaching conversations will build on your technical capability and move you towards being a great people manager and leader.



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