You’re dreaming of team members who question and challenge existing structures and processes? Who are always trying to come up with even better solutions? People who actively push for things and want to take over responsibility? That sounds just like the essence of proactive teams.

Sometimes we’re lucky and just find those employees, while other times it’s on us as leaders to actively foster proactivity within a team. Because after all, you as a leader are responsible for enabling proactivity in your team.

 

How to build proactive teams

The good news: your team already has “proactivity potential.” Without knowing anything about your team members, I’m confident that they’re great humans who recognize the need for change and are able to take over responsibility. Careful, if you’re rather convinced of the contrary right now—you might have a case of self-fulfilling prophecies at hand. 

If you as a leader require proactivity from your team, it is your responsibility to lay the groundwork for it.

 

5 requirements for proactive teams

  • Give space

Trust your employees and give them the necessary leeway to take action and make their own decisions. Only if people see the purpose behind their actions, will they be willing to think outside the box. Analyze how competencies are distributed across your team and make adjustments, in case the current situation reduces your team’s proactivity.

  • Be clear

Communicate your thoughts openly and in an appreciative way, if you want your team to be more proactive. Maybe your team members are just waiting for you to address them and include them in decisions. Put your cards on the table and clearly say what you expect. It’s all about openness here.

  • Map out the big picture

Offer your team a vision to help them better understand the big picture. Clear goals serve as points of reference and lay the base for everyone to do their part and give their best.

  • Walk the talk

If you are proactive, you will also boost proactivity in your team. Be open to new ideas and try out new ways. Create a safe space for discussions in your team and make sure ideas aren’t labeled impossible, bad, etc. without really giving them some thought.

  • Let people make mistakes

One shot, one hit? That’s not how things work. Expect some ideas to fail, expect some setbacks. Allow your team to make these experiences and be patient. Talk about mistakes with the team to learn from them, give constructive feedback, but avoid finger-pointing.

 

The strong foundation is: you 

What’s essential in all of this is a strong foundation, a role model: you. Stop thinking of yourself as the victim, and start taking action. Create the necessary requirements for your team to approach topics with curiosity and an open mind to allow them to proactively take over responsibility. And if you’re still wondering, why all that fuzz about proactivity: well, because proactivity is one of the 6 most important skills of successful leaders.