Initiative Skills in the Workplace

Madeline is a writer, communicator, and storyteller who is passionate about using words to help drive positive change. She holds a bachelors in English Creative Writing and Communication Studies and lives in Denver, Colorado. In her spare time, shes usually somewhere outside (preferably in the mountains) — and enjoys poetry and fiction.

Initiative is the ability to be resourceful and work without always being told what to do. It requires resilience and determination. People who show initiative demonstrate they can think for themselves and take action when necessary. It means using your head, and having the drive to achieve.

Career Readiness – Success at Work – TAKING THE INITIATIVE AT WORK

Examples of initiative skills

Here are some examples of initiative skills that employers look for when hiring potential candidates:


Confidence is a key skill for taking initiative in the workplace because it allows you to follow through with your decisions and encourage your colleagues to rely on you. When you display confidence in your work performance and choices, people are more likely to believe in your abilities, which may make you feel more secure taking initiative. You can practice confidence by initiating actions before others and supporting your choices.


When you practice self-management, it means you can take care of yourself, meet work quotas and realize when you need help. This skill helps you take initiative because it helps you be independent and a self-starter, which may lead to you taking action to improve your performance or help your company. You may use self-management skills when you work through and learn from a challenge instead of waiting for someone else to fix it for you.


Employers expect decisiveness from people who take initiative because they want you to be positive about your decisions and to take action without hesitation. Often, being decisive helps you make effective decisions quickly, which gives you the opportunity to take initiative sooner than someone else. This makes you dependable for quick, successful solutions in the workplace, which employers typically appreciate. You can show decisiveness by understanding a situation and providing a decision quickly rather than letting a colleague take initiative.


Solving problems efficiently is an important part of taking initiative in the workplace. To take initiative, you may need to create solutions to problems with little information, but this can help you take action before others and overcome obstacles that are affecting your employer. Problem-solving skills also allow you to overcome challenges on your own, which saves time for your colleagues and improves your knowledge, productivity and reputation. One way to use problem-solving skills at work is by creating helpful solutions to problems that come up in meetings with your team.


Staying professional helps you take initiative in respectful, work-appropriate ways. Professionalism is a skill that you may strengthen as you work, but it involves following workplace rules and regulations, maintaining friendly and proper relationships with your coworkers and completing your work to company standards. Since taking initiative often means stepping up to overcome a challenge before others, its important to remain professional and kind to your colleagues and consider their opinions.


When you take initiative in the workplace, you may have to practice your conflict-resolution skills. These skills help you resolve conflicts between colleagues or with customers to maintain a pleasant work environment and good relationships. Taking initiative to resolve conflicts means you may need to practice diffusing situations and creating compromises quickly. Being skilled in initiating conflict resolution helps your workplace function more smoothly and may speed up productivity by avoiding distracting situations.


Adaptability is a useful skill for taking initiative because thinking quickly often means changing your original plans as you go. Sometimes, you may learn additional information after making a decision that requires you to change your original idea. Being adaptable allows you to offer new solutions or changes that can benefit your team and improve overall performance. This may also help you adapt existing ideas and take action to get those ideas changed by talking with your manager, giving an informative presentation or creating a petition.

What are initiative skills?

Initiative skills refer to your ability to assess a situation and take action without direction from someone else. This type of skill may help you perform better in the workplace and increase your chances of being hired when listed on your resume and cover letter. Various skills can contribute to your ability to take initiative in the workplace, but many of them involve thinking critically and quickly to decide the best course of action and taking that action with confidence.

How to improve initiative skills

You can improve your initiative skills in many ways, including those outlined below:

1. Develop goals

Developing goals allows you to set your own pace and understand what you want from your career. This helps you take initiative as soon as your employer presents an opportunity without having to think about it for too long. This also helps you save time by applying for jobs that fit your plan and gives you more time to initiate contact with specific companies or recruiters. Consider creating a list or timeline of goals you want to achieve and reviewing it every few weeks.

2. Practice self-confidence

Taking initiative means putting yourself in front of others and making a decision, so its important to have confidence in yourself to make the best decisions for your workplace. You can practice your self-confidence by making smaller decisions with expected outcomes and slowly making bigger decisions with less predictable outcomes. This helps you feel secure in your choices and teaches you how to fix mistakes quickly. In addition, you can do research about topics that may come up at work so you can prepare an answer or solution in which youre confident.

3. Identify opportunities

Learn to notice when opportunities to take initiative arise so you can be the first to move and benefit from the opportunity. In the workplace, its important to observe details to notice if there are things you can improve or new projects you can complete. Identifying opportunities allows you to take initiative when you notice these things, which improves your performance and reputation with your colleagues. Try to notice changes in behavior and take notes during meetings to learn the signs of opportunities to take initiative.

4. Learn from others

Your colleagues can teach you a lot about taking initiative. Watch how high-level employees take action and make decisions in your workplace to learn their methods and techniques for taking initiative. To learn more deeply, ask for advice or tips, and consider finding someone to be your mentor. First-hand experience is a great way to learn and practice taking initiative so you can benefit from your skills in your job.

5. Practice at home

Sometimes, improving your initiative skills requires practice, and practicing at home is a risk-free way to build your confidence and understand your response to sudden challenges or opportunities. You may find it useful to practice taking initiative in the comfort of your home or with family and friends. Consider creating a list of opportunities and practicing your response to them in the mirror until you feel comfortable declaring your solution or decision. You may also ask family and friends to roleplay work scenarios with you so you can practice responses to unexpected requests.

Using initiative skills in the workplace

Initiative skills can help you in all aspects of life, but here are some ways you may take initiative in the workplace:

How to highlight initiative skills

Consider the following ways to highlight initiative skills on your resume, in your cover letter and during a job interview:

Initiative skills on your resume

Highlight your initiative skills on your resume by including them in the skills section. Choose skills that match those in the job listing for which youre applying to show employers you understand and fit the requirements. Display the most relevant ones in a bulleted list or another brief format to improve readability and make your skills the focus of the section.

Initiative skills in your cover letter

In your cover letter, choose a few of the most relevant initiative skills for the job listing and elaborate on how you use them. Try to keep your descriptions brief as you explain how you show initiative and how it has helped you in your job. Use clear and direct language to show employers you are confident in your skills and serious about starting a career with them.

Initiative skills in your job interview

During your job interview, incorporate your initiative skills into your body language and interactions. Be direct and respectful to their interviewer, ask them questions and maintain eye contact to show youre comfortable initiating contact and interacting with others. Consider expanding on your initiative skills by describing the situations from your cover letter in more detail or describing different situations in which you took initiative.


What are examples of initiative?

Examples of initiative skills
  • Confidence. Confidence is a key skill for taking initiative in the workplace because it allows you to follow through with your decisions and encourage your colleagues to rely on you. …
  • Self-management. …
  • Decisiveness. …
  • Problem-solving. …
  • Professionalism. …
  • Conflict-resolution. …
  • Adaptability. …
  • Develop goals.

How do you demonstrate initiative skills?

There are six steps you can take to develop your own initiative.
  1. Develop a career plan.
  2. Build self-confidence.
  3. Spot opportunities and potential improvements.
  4. Sense-check your ideas.
  5. Develop persistence.
  6. Find balance.

How can you show initiative skills in the workplace?

Examples of using initiative:
  • Preparing in advance for job interviews.
  • Offering to take on an extra task at work, college, school or in the home.
  • Taking on a new hobby or interest.
  • Doing something you know is good for you, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone.

What are three initiative examples?

How to take initiative at work
  1. Be proactive. …
  2. Find opportunities for improvement. …
  3. Voice your ideas. …
  4. Be decisive. …
  5. Improve systems, procedures and policies. …
  6. Address and prevent problems. …
  7. Be prepared for meetings. …
  8. Anticipate questions and prepare answers.

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