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Emotional And Intellectual Intelligence Of The Intelligent Mindset – Part 4 – Practice Of Initiative

Written by: Prof. Dr. Frank Lee Harper, Jr., Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Prof. Dr. Frank Lee Harper, Jr

This article continues our journey with my "Leaders Are Born to Be Made!" series. The teaching objective is to continue to share my leadership and management insights within an agile ideology to drive strategic execution—professionally and personally—in this Industrial Revolution (I.R.) 4.0. Each article discusses the "world-class leadership behavior and management best practice" associated with the featured letter of the A.G.I.L.E. L.E.A.D.E.R.S.H.I.P. with a G.R.I.P. ™ titled acronym that comprises the Agile Leadership Framework™. The featured letter of this article continues with the "I" in A.G.I.L.E., introduced in an earlier article. The first article gave an overview of Intelligent Mindset. Articles two and three took a deep dive into the practices of innovation and insight, respectively. Part 4 will cover the third eye, or lens, of the Intelligent Mindset, the practice of initiative.

Thoughtful man sitting down in 3d render illustration.

The articles in this series teach you the components that embrace emotional and intellectual intelligence to remove ego-based fears—i.e., judgment, resistance, and attachment to outcomes — that contribute to toxic environments. This article uncovers the relationship between initiative and the previous two lenses of innovation and insight.

Third practice of an intelligent mindset Initiative

Let us look at the importance of initiative for innovation and insight. The previous article on insight established that, in general, innovations that are the most successful are based on solid and meaningful insights: 

  • Using insight to pinpoint the most significant commercial opportunities jumpstarts innovation in the right direction

  • Then, repeated iterative testing of product concepts was done. Agile concepts like scrum are based on principles and aspects that drive processes steered by a robust assessment of commercial validity, not just a creative impulse.

Initiative in this context is the ability to assess and initiate innovations independently. You are resourceful and work without always being told what to do. This requires resilience and determination.

In my various leadership roles, I always encourage everyone within my sphere of influence to take the initiative to become proactive. Here are some steps

  1. Voice your ideas. By voicing your ideas, you can earn a reputation as a thought leader. Don't worry about how outlandish the ideas may sound. The objective is to stimulate a thought-provoking conversation. For example, young stars from M.I.T. in the U.S.A. have developed gloves that convert sign language into sound, benefitting several million people. Consider how this project started by them simply voicing their ideas.

  2. Be curious and learn about the work going on around you. In Six Sigma, there is a technique called the "5 whys.” The aim is at a very different scale of ambition beyond conventional wisdom. This is done by questioning the answers received five times to get to the root cause of a problem. It is an excellent learning process.

  3. Find a new opportunity for improvement within your workplace. Develop a continuous learning and improvement mindset. 

  4. Address any problems you notice. This aligns with ‘voice your ideas.’ 

  5. Show up when someone needs help and ask about team progress. This is a habit of a servant leader. 

  6. Offer to help training new employees: the best leaders and the greatest teachers.

  7. Try to get to know your coworkers. Many people find it easier to take the initiative around people they are comfortable with. 

  8. Ask for clarification when you're confused. This demonstration of vulnerability goes a long way toward earning your respect and contributing to your feeling comfortable taking the initiative. 

  9. Speak up during team meetings. Sharing your beliefs becomes your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your habits, your habits become your character, and your character becomes your destiny. Creating or participating in a dialogue that stimulates this process takes initiative.

  10.  Request constructive criticism and feedback on your work. Demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and an improvement mindset. 

Taking the initiative means thinking proactively about tasks — not just to check them off a list, but to get them done well. It's about going the extra mile on your assigned tasks, thinking through complications, and taking on work before someone asks you to. Taking the initiative means recognizing and seizing opportunities.

Another word for taking initiative might be “extreme ownership.” In other words, “extreme ownership" means that we are fully responsible for our work and welcome the opportunity to learn from it and improve when things go wrong.


The Intelligent Mindset practices innovation, insight, and initiative. There is a strong correlation between each, which contributes to the mindset's emotional and intellectual development. The next article in this discussion of the Intelligent Mindset will cover the practice of influence.

Until then, all the best, continued success.

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Prof. Dr. Frank Lee Harper, Jr Brainz Magazine

Prof. Dr. Frank Lee Harper, Jr., Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Frank Lee Harper, Jr. is the founder and world champion of agile leadership concepts. He is President ‒ UBTS International Corp having strategic affiliates in over 55 countries, Provost / Associate Professor ‒ Cambridge Corporate University, having branches in over 25 countries, while serving on for-profit and not-for-profit advisory boards. He is an award-winning IT leader and published author who is adept at influencing and teaching strategic transformations across multiple countries, industries, disciplines, and technologies for businesses having global revenues ($1+ Trillion); savings/growth ($10+ Billion); with budgets ($4+ Billion). His favorite motto is, "Leaders Are Born To Be Made."



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