Three steps to becoming a proactive leader

Proactive leadership may seem counterintuitive to our reactive minds, but it will go a long way to help avoid potential risks or dangers on a project.


Life pushes us to be reactive and we learn from an early age. Young kids stick a fork in a power outlet or touch a hot stove and then we react. Reactive learning is the predominant learning style as we grow and it is how we learn the concept of cause and effect. Later in life, we are told that proactive is better, which seems contrary to how we've been shaped and molded in life. Why should we go proactive when it seems to counterintuitive?

While reactivity may have taught our ancestors to run from the saber tooth tiger, proactivity would have allowed them to avoid the saber tooth tiger in the first place or at the very least show up with a weapon for protection. Proactivity lessens the chances of needing reactive leaders, which is better overall for your health. Why stir up the hormones if you can identify the potential risk early and address the problem before it attacks like a saber tooth tiger?

No matter what the project or task is, these three steps can help in being a more proactive leader.

  • Decide what success for the task or project looks like. What are the goals? How do you know you have won? Knowing these elements helps with the follow-through on activities. 
  • Second, ask what could impede or jeopardize the project or task's success. List out each of these risks. Some will involve other people while other involve resources. Think about the worst-case scenarios and list as many as possible. Also, categorize these risks by their severity, likelihood of occurring, and the ability to proactively detect. 
  • When that's done, create a plan to address the high-risk items early before they occur. Many of the steps to address the risks will be communication action items that will need to be drafted in advance to explain that an issue is expected and that it being handled.

Shon Isenhour, principal at Eduditio, LLC.While not foolproof, these three overarching steps will help you avoid being eaten by the saber tooth tiger you are trying to manage.

- Shon Isenhour is a founding partner at Eruditio and is a part of Plant Engineering's editorial advisory board. This article originally appeared on Eruditio's blogEruditio is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, CFE Media,

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me