How to Take Initiative on Your Team Without Being the Person Stuck Doing it All


Do you know how to take initiative on your team without even being the person stuck doing all of it? So here are some hard won do’s and don’ts that would help you in positioning yourself as someone with initiative, without being a total pushover.

Do Offer Your Help

Your colleague is stuck on their portion of a project and wants you to guide him in getting over that hurdle. They know that you have the expertise to help them get that figured out. Offer help without thinking twice. He will appreciate your effort.

But Don’t Just Take Over

Always remember, there is a huge difference between helping someone figure out the best way forward and taking charge and just doing the entire thing for them.

It all goes back to the classic “teach a man to fish” proverb. Make sure you show your team member your process, so that they are empowered to do that on their own in the future.

Would it be faster for you to just handle it yourself? Probably. But, that also means you are putting yourself in a position to be the one to handle the situation.

Do Your Best Work for Your Team

You pride yourself on your top-notch work and that is a great thing.

Not wanting to be taken advantage of should not mean having to lower your own standards and churn out lower-quality results, just so you do not make yourself look like an easy target to the rest of your group.

But Don’t Repeatedly Cover for Others

While it’s fine to help your colleagues improve upon their own work from time to time, that does not mean you should repeatedly step in to cover for other people’s shortcomings.

If your colleagues are starting to get a little lax about a shared project and are only doing half of what was expected from them or are turning things in late, get your portion done to the very best of your ability and then resist the urge to charge in and clean up their messes.

Make Expectations Clear

Your team is not full of a bunch of mind readers. And, if you have already set the precedent that you’ll be the one to grab the reins and get everything handled, that can be a tough reputation to shake.

Hence, you need to focus on being a bit assertive on and making expectations for shared work painfully clear. Everything from timelines to roles to individual action items should be obvious to your team members, so there is no doubt about who’s responsible for what and by when it needs to be finished.

But Don’t Volunteer to Do it All

You can ask your group who would like to take the lead on what, and you are met with nothing but the chirp of crickets.

Resist the temptation to jump up and volunteer to handle an unfair load of work. Choose a reasonable amount of tasks for yourself, and then remind your team that the rest of them need to be covered.

If you continue to shoulder all of the burden yourself, your colleagues will never feel the need to add some of those assignments to their own plates.

However, always being the one to get things done regardless of the contributions of the rest of your team also puts you in a position to repeatedly be taken advantage of.

Keep these do’s and don’ts in mind the next time you’re working with your team, and you’ll still be able to take initiative and produce work you’re proud of without magically transforming that group project into a one-person show.