Take Initiative at Work

Take the initiative when your boss is not around

"Following the leader is good, but understanding the leader is much more important. This is a skill that every person has to develop," observes Radhakrishnan Pillai.
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A good leader makes every follower inspired and productive—be it community leaders, spiritual leaders or corporate leaders. In the presence of the master, everyone feels safe and secure. But the real challenge is when the big boss is not around.

There are two eventualities which may force a boss not to come to work. Either it was pre-planned and others were informed about his or her absence, or some emergency came up and the boss had to take a quick decision to go somewhere else.

In either case, the subordinates are supposed to take charge. Chanakya says: “The minister should take steps in case of calamity of the king.” (5.6.1)

So, if the king is not around, the minister should take charge. If the Director or CEO is not present, the managers; and if the boss is not around, the subordinates.

But how can one go about this?

Observe the boss

So many of us follow a leader, yet forget to understand the leader. Following the leader is good, but understanding the leader is much more important. This is a skill that every person has to develop.

Whenever you are around the boss, observe him. Ask yourself: “Why does he do this?” “What does he really want?” Try to read between the lines and listen to the unsaid words. As the great Jesuit priest and psychotherapist, Anthony de Mello said: “The words of a master seem ordinary, but have foreign meaning.”

Start taking small decisions

Good leaders expect their team to take the right decisions in the overall interest of the company or country. However, if you do not have this habit, start taking small decisions yourself even when the boss is around. Taking small decisions will give you the confidence needed to take big decisions.

Take charge

Finally, when the boss is not around, the followers have to take charge. There should not be a vacuum just because the leader is absent. The show must go on. Each person should think like the boss and be a good boss himself.

Once, the leader of a successful organisation was asked how the good performance was continued even after its founder passed away. He replied: “The master is gone, but he left behind master-pieces!”

Dr Radhakrishnan Pillai is an Indian management thinker, author, and Founder of Atma Darshan and Chanakya Aanvikshiki. Dr Pillai has extensively researched Kautilya’s Arthashastra, the 3rd century BC treatise and incorporated it into modern management.

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