In reading the new book Quiet by Susan Cain, we happened upon a very useful gem related to Career Success in the New Economy. Cain notes, “…proactive employees who take advantage of opportunities in a fast-moving, 24/7 business environment, without waiting for a leader to tell them what to do, are increasingly vital to organizational success.”

Is Cain suggesting mutiny? Not likely, but let’s take a few moments to explore how we define a proactive employee and how you can move closer to becoming one.

Proactive Employees are individuals who look for internal and external opportunities that will enhance the position of the organization. As a proactive employee, the balance between self-direction and engaging others is critical to creating success. The key to being a successful proactive employee rests in the ability to take initiative, or even calculated risks, that will lead to innovative results while also understanding the needs of the organization’s leader(s). In other words, proactive employees need to discover how much the organization’s leader(s) can tolerate staff acting on opportunities without their prior knowledge so that their endeavors are considered supportive of the whole.

Take a moment to ask yourself if you are a proactive employee. Do your regularly look for ways to make a difference in your organization? Do you stay connected to leaders and colleagues so that you know what they need from you to feel safe and confident with your independent decisions? Do you know the key ways your leader(s) like to be included and when they need to be engaged?

We agree that proactive employees are increasingly vital but it’s critical to not confuse being a proactive employee with being a lone wolf – out doing whatever you want without consideration of your leader’s “need to know” status and their desire to engage.

If you get passionate about supporting your organization in creating success, you can’t help but become a proactive employee because you will look for innovative opportunities and you will create opportunities for communication and collaboration.