Leadership and the Law of Initiative

Leadership and the Law of Initiative

Leadership and the Law of Initiative: Nothing Happens Until Someone Takes Action

This article has been written for those that have done well and are ready to take the next step to progress their careers and move into management or the next step into a greater leadership position. However, the first step rests with the individual to take the initiative to do the things in preparation for taking the next step on their journey. Read more…

Napolean Hill, one of the earliest scholars and authors in self-help and motivation, evangelized in his book an age old classic the “Laws of Success” that:

“Leadership is critical to the attainment of success and initiative is the very foundation upon which this necessary quality of leadership is built. You must master the habit of procrastination and eliminate it from your make up.”

Profiles International (PI) has an excellent ebook entitled “Top Ten Leadership Tips for First Time Managers” that I am going to draw content for the balance of this article.

Develop yourself as a leader
A question was asked in the ebook “have you ever know a person within your company who was highly intelligent and was promoted only to fail shortly thereafter? Just because someone has great ideas and a great analytical mind doesn’t make them a great leader. Leadership is more than a high I.Q.; it is about emotional intelligence (E.I.) as well.”

The ebook continues by saying that:

“Emotional intelligence will help you develop your ability to lead and manage, whatever the conditions may be. In order to be a great leader, you must understand and know how to manage yourself first. Being aware of the people around you will help you become a skilled leader. Just because you have a high I.Q. does not mean that you will be a skillful leader. A great leader should have a balanced combination of both high I.Q and E.I.”

Set a good example

A study by Biola University concluded that a majority of researchers believe that leadership origins are not primarily from genes and family but instead are composed of a mix of work experience, hardships, role models, education, and mentors. The study continues by saying that they do not deny that certain leadership attributes are “in-born” but that most of the elements that mold leadership involve external factors.

The study continued by stating that “the lack of needed leaders is a reflection of neglected development rather than a dearth of abilities.” The translation is that you can craft your leadership skills whether you were born with them or not.

The final point in this tip is that there is no greater leadership responsibility than casting a compelling vision.

Communication is the key

A good leader will gain the support of their team. According to the ebook, a recent Gallup poll indicated that organizations with a high level of engagement have nearly a 22% greater amount than those who do not.

The third tip went onto state one of the keys to good communication is to not hide from your employees all day in your office. Each employee is different and motivated in different ways, but you will be able to find the optimal ways by fostering a culture of dialogue.

As a leader, it will be your responsibility to find those keys to obtain the best response and results from your team. Gone are the days of yester year and the one-size fits all management style.

Help your team see the big picture

“When your workplace has the passion for the “why”, lives by the “how”, and focuses on the “what” of your organization, then they see your big picture.” Once this has been established, a good leader will have no need to micro-manage their teams any longer.

“Motivated by “why”, guided by “how”, and targeted to achieve “what”, they can evaluate their daily activities to determine what they should be doing and how they should be doing it.”

Encourage feedback

This tip starts with the suggestion of maintaining an open door policy and making a habit of soliciting ideas, suggestions, innovations, and any other thoughts from the team.
Content from this tip also referenced that a large study showed that the most inspiring leaders were those that polled their employees on a regular basis. The study also indicated that many leaders make the mistake of thinking that they understand what is going on in the mind of their employees. Ask for this advice in both a one-on-one format and in a group setting.

Don’t underestimate the power of recognition

Some of the research on careers from Salesforce.com suggest that more than 80% of those surveyed suggested that money was not the primary motivator for them. The study went on to say that there is a delta between what they want for their hard work and what they receive.

The following are some suggested ways to handle recognition for your employees:

  • Recognition should be direct and specific
  • Recognition should be sincere
  • Recognition should be followed by a benefit or reward
  • Recognition should be personalized
  • Recognition should be simple

Employee recognition is one of the most effective ways to motivate employees.

  • Be decisive

A great leader needs to make decisions and stick to them. Employees do not like wishy washy managers that keep changing their mind and tell one person on thing, then another employee another thing because it may be what they want to hear. The ebook states that decisiveness separates great leaders from the procrastinators. As a byproduct, the great leader should:

  • Exercise sound judgment
  • Delegate workload based on employee’s expertise, interests and qualifications
  • Be accountable for your decisions
  • Operate with purpose

Create an environment of constant learning and development

The leader should encourage their team to explore and discover new ways to reach their individual and company goals. This methodology includes allowing your employees to make and learn from their mistakes and provide a forum to use any instances as a teaching moment and learning exercise.

Provide professional guidance
“A good manager and leader will also be a mentor. Make yourself available to staff members and show interest in their career development with the company. Don’t overlook the motivational power of positive reinforcement – your staff will appreciate your commitment to their progress.”

Be patient with yourself
Leadership will take time and you must be patient with yourself. One important point illustrated is that a good leader must be a boss and not a friend. You can have good relations with staff, but much like a parent who needs to be a parent and not a friend of their child, this relationship cannot impair your ability to perform your job.
Building strong management skills takes time and you should feel free to seek guidance from your boss, colleagues and professional networks when you need it.


Although this article about Leadership has focused primarily on the “Law of Initiative”, there are a number of other “Laws” that Hill illustrated which come into play to be great leader. Due to the length of this article, I will mention them only as a point of identification in order to create awareness in your journey to a (greater) leadership role in your organization. These Laws include:

The Law of Definite Purpose The Law of Self Control
The Law of Self Confidence The Law of a Pleasing Personality
The Law of Initiative and Leadership The Law of Concentration
The Law of Action The Law of Accurate Thinking
The Law of Doing more than Paid for The Law of Tolerance
The Law of Imagination The Law of the Golden Rule

In a final thought Hill concluded “Without the combined use of these Laws no one can become a truly great Leader. Omission of a single one of these laws diminish the power of the Leader.”

1 – The Laws of Success by Napolean Hill (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Law_of_Success)

2 – 10 Leadership Tips for First Time Nabagers by Profile International (http://info.profilesinternational.com/profiles-employee-assessment-blog/…)

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