advertisement
advertisement
The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Ensure a proactive mindset for you and your business with these 15 strategies

Anticipating challenges rather than just reacting to them puts you a step ahead in overcoming them.

Ensure a proactive mindset for you and your business with these 15 strategies
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]
advertisement
advertisement

With every problem—whether it’s personal or professional—you’re given a choice to respond either proactively or reactively. A proactive approach allows you to get in front of the issue before it escalates, while a reactive approach is usually focused on cleaning up the aftermath.

advertisement
advertisement

It’s easier for business leaders and their teams to overcome challenges when there’s a plan in place even before they appear. To help you develop a proactive mindset and business culture, 16 members of Fast Company Executive Board share their experience and the strategies that work for them.

1. EMBRACE FAILURE

Through failure, we learn, adjust, and do better next time. By encouraging risk-taking and being comfortable with mistakes, teams can be more agile, move quickly, and make an impact. If we fail, we fail fast—and correct fast—and end up better for having tried, whether we succeed or not. This allows for teams to be proactive, take risks, and succeed gloriously. – Becca Chambers, Ivanti

2. TAKE YOUR HOLISTIC HEALTH SERIOUSLY

I take my mental, emotional, and physical health seriously. When I am at my best, I can respond most appropriately. Through visualization, I can map out where I want us to be in the future, accounting for the obstacles along the way. I also keep a progress report of obstacles overcome and lessons learned. When you show up to work centered and ready to solve problems, it is harder to be thrown off. – Liza Streiff, Knopman Marks Financial Training

advertisement

3. KEEP UP WITH YOUR COMPETITORS

Our entire team is always aware of what our landscape and competitors are doing—what they’re talking about, who they hired, which client they showed a demo to. This keeps us always one step ahead of our entire market. – Yoav Vilner, Walnut

4. ENCOURAGE AUTONOMY AND TRUST

Together, autonomy, trust, and high expectations are the foundation of encouraging proactiveness. I trust my team members to do their jobs and do them well, and they respond by creating new ideas and addressing issues before they get worse. We also constantly challenge each other to perform at our best. If I’m giving my best to the team, I expect the same from them. – Ryan Simonetti, Convene

5. SET QUARTERLY GOALS

My company and team have quarterly goals aligned around our objectives and key results. Each objective clearly defines what we are trying to achieve during that quarter. Each team member then reflects on the work they are doing and ensures it is aligned with the larger objective. This empowers team members to test new traction channels that help accomplish the goal and cut items that don’t. – Andrew Miller, Agorapulse

advertisement

6. SET AND SHARE AGENDAS FOR EACH WEEK AND DAY

Both in my personal and professional lives, I take time every single morning and Sunday night to plan for what’s coming that day and week. I set a clear agenda and report to both clients and underlings on what’s been accomplished and what to expect going forward. This has the twin effect of proactively driving what happens and how and providing a certain sense of calm through the storm. – Yuri Kruman, HR, Talent & Systems Consulting

7. SET INTENTIONS EACH MORNING

To prioritize proactiveness, I start every day by quickly setting intentions. I pick three areas that I want to focus on and I create three action items for each area. If I’m focused on prioritizing self-care, I will set goals to meditate for 30 minutes, exercise for 30 minutes, and get 30 minutes of sunlight. Setting a daily intention allows me to be proactive instead of reactive. – Nathalie Walton, Expectful

8. IDENTIFY YOUR TOP THREE TASKS FOR THE DAY

I have learned that if I overwhelm myself with lists of all the things I have to do, then I am slow to complete tasks because I feel overwhelmed. Now I list the top three to five items I absolutely have to accomplish each day and stay focused until they are done. Since I started doing this, I have felt successful each day, and I am proactive in making sure I have not wasted time or missed anything important. – Melissa Bradley, Ureeka

advertisement

9. GIVE YOURSELF TIME AND SPACE TO THINK

Ask yourself where you are and what you’re doing when you get your best ideas. In the shower? Jogging? Commuting? The only answer you never hear is “at work.” Why? Because the No. 1 barrier to innovation is “I don’t have time to think.” And at work, we never do. Yet the moment you step into the shower, that big idea just jumps right in there. – Duncan Wardle, iD8 & innov8

10. BLOCK OFF WEEKLY TIME FOR FOCUSED WORK

One of the practices we put in place at The Muse that has encouraged more proactiveness and focus on the right things is “Winning Wednesdays.” The entire company has until 1 p.m. on Wednesday blocked off to do uninterrupted, focused work. In a world full of meetings and distractions, it’s amazing how much you can get done with four straight hours to yourself. – Alexandra Cavoulacos, The Muse

11. ADDRESS ISSUES HEAD-ON—TOGETHER

I encourage cross-departmental collaboration. One way I do this is by holding weekly team meetings where there is open communication. We discuss any potential issues as a group. By addressing issues head-on, you can avoid potential pitfalls. – Kelley Higney, Bug Bite Thing

advertisement

12. RECORD YOUR GOALS AND YOUR PROGRESS TOWARD THEM

Enthusiasm is no replacement for having a plan and executing against it regularly. Energy levels, focus, and excitement can rise and fall, but recording your goals and working steadily toward them is the most important element to ensuring success. For that reason, I employ rigorous planning in my business and personal life to keep me on track. – Evan Nierman, Red Banyan

13. ADD TIME FOR QUESTIONS TO YOUR MEETING AGENDAS

A very simple thing that we do in our business is to make a space in our meeting agendas where people can bring up questions and doubts they have. Just create a shared document and ask team members to write their problems or questions down. Other team members can pitch in with answers, and the matter is addressed live during the meeting. We see more proactivity by giving people a voice. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

14. STEP BACK AND GET SOME EMOTIONAL SPACE

Since 2020 I’ve been repeating this mantra to myself and my team: “Energy high, pulses low.” This reminds me to step back before I respond to something to get some emotional space from it. Then I can respond from a calm and centered place and determine if it’s urgent, important, or both. This allows me to prioritize among the many other things pulling my time and focus. – Greta McAnany, Blue Fever

advertisement

15. GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION

Some things require an immediate response, but there are far fewer such issues than those who “want” an immediate response would have us think. For any action or decision where the stakes are high enough that a bad call or response would matter, ask, “What is the longest reasonable increment I can take before responding?” This creates space for emotion to settle and intention to rise and leads to better decisions. – Jonathan Fields, Spark Endeavors | Good Life Project®