How To Move From Reactive To Proactive Leadership

As a leader, examine the pointless activities in business and proactively forge a better and smarter path for maximum impact.

Photo: Ken Gosnell, CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience); Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Ken Gosnell, CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience); Source: Courtesy Photo

It is easy for leaders to find their days inundated with pointless activities. There is a difference between working hard and working for an impact.

Leaders must move from the pointless to the powerful. Leaders must strive to move from reactive to proactive to helpt heir organizations stay active and agile amidst market change.

Recently, I coached an individual that was struggling with his role. He shared how he felt stuck in the unnecessary activities of the day and was not accomplishing anything of significance. When he talked to his peers about the situation, one peer casually replied, “Welcome to the pointless forest.”

Perhaps as a leader, you — like my friend — feel you are on the fast track to nowhere. Leaders do not have to stay stuck. A few simple changes can help a leader move from the reactive to the proactive and thus move their organization forward.


Becoming a Proactive Leader


1. Conduct an environmental scan for new opportunities

One of the most effective ways to gain motivation as you move through change is to seek a new approach or discover a new idea. Environmental scanning allows leaders to identify changes taking place in the market and guide their organizations to maximize opportunities coming down the pipeline.

Environmental scanning allows leaders to find an edge so they can endeavor to do what no one else is doing or wants to do. As a result, companies that anticipate and fill gaps in the marketplace become indispensable to consumers.

Experience Question: What gap in your organization could you fill today because no one else is doing anything to solve the problem?


2. Cultivate the courage to say ‘no’

When leaders develop the strength to say ‘no,’ they gain the personal power to move from reactive to proactive decision-making. Leaders must decide to stop the pointless cycle. It’s easy for leaders to continue in meaningless activities simply because those activities have always been done.

However, the business world needs leaders to step up to the plate and simply say, “No. We do not need to do that anymore.”

Photo: Djordje Petrovic, Pexels
Photo: Djordje Petrovic, YFS Magazine

Steven Covey, in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People asserts, “It is easy to say ‘no’ when there is a bigger ‘yes’ inside.”

Experience Question: What would you describe as the bigger “yes” in your life?


3. Remember your ‘why’

Leaders need to know what their personal goals are and decide on the goals of the business. When a leader clearly understands their purpose and that of the organization, they can quickly recognize pointless activities. There are countless good things to accomplish in life, but the best leaders focus solely on the best things to be accomplished. Proactive leaders stay close to their ultimate purpose and know their ‘why.’

Experience Question: Can you describe your purpose in one clear and concise sentence?


4. Determine your ROI

The new business reality is that things must be done better and faster but with fewer resources in many cases. Pointless activities are not a good use of time or resources.

Proactive leaders examine the use of their time to learn where they will receive the greatest return on their investment. Proactive leaders focus on tasks that produce the biggest impact on their organizations. These leaders focus their time and energy on activities that only they can do and leave the other pursuits to what others can do.

Life is too short to be wasted on meaningless activities.

Experience Question: Can you clearly define your top three high impact activities that provide the best return on investment for your company?


Every leader will encounter days when they are engaged in pointless activities. The best leaders are able to move quickly from reactive to proactive decision-making. As a leader, examine the pointless activities in business and proactively forge a better and smarter path.


Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience). He serves leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. He has worked with hundreds of CEOs and leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, coach, and strategic partner with CEOs. Ken is the creator and facilitator of the Christian CEO Linkedin Group and creator of the CEO Experience Impact Assessment. He is married to Shonda, and they have four children. Connect with @ken_gosnell on Twitter.


© YFS Magazine. All Rights Reserved. Copying prohibited. All material is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this material is prohibited. Sharing of this material under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International terms, listed here, is permitted.


In this article