Initiative: The Readiness to Act on Opportunity

Have you ever heard of Mary Fields—also known as Stagecoach Mary?  If not, you probably aren’t alone.  Yet Mary Fields, like so many people who helped forge the westward expansion of the United States in the 1800s, is an individual who embodies Initiative.

Mary Fields was born into slavery in 1832.  Freed after the Civil War ended in 1865, Mary eventually made her way to Montana where she hauled freight, repaired buildings, and even ran a restaurant.  At the age of 60, Fields became the first female African American “star route” mail carrier in the United States.  During the eleven years she delivered mail, she never missed a day of work—even using snowshoes to carry the mail in inclement weather.

The team at LEADon® enjoys historical tales like this one, but Mary Fields’ type of Initiative is timely for leaders in the 21st century too.  As one of twenty-five essential characteristics that comprise an individual’s EQ (Emotional Quotient), Initiative describes one’s readiness to act on an opportunity.  Initiative comes from the Latin term “initium” which means beginning, and words associated with it include inventiveness, resourcefulness, capability, and imagination.

Spend a few minutes considering your own capabilities when it comes to Initiative.  Do you readily seize opportunities in your life? Do you act when a door opens, or do you tend to hang back and let others take action?  Are you good at starting something new, or are you stymied by fear of change or failure?  Now, think about your team or others in your sphere of influence.  How would you evaluate them when it comes to Initiative?  Would it be valuable to you and team members in your Corporate Family® to improve this essential EQ skill?  How could more Initiative positively impact roles and responsibilities, business goals, and overall productivity and profitability?

At LEADon®, we encourage leaders and their teams to take our online metric, the DECQ® (Developing Emotional Competency Questionnaire®) in order to discover strengths and weaknesses in all twenty-five EQ characteristics, including Initiative. Personal DECQ® reports are confidential, but you can use team and Corporate Family® results to develop a plan for improvement.  In addition, all participants will receive recommendations for specific online courses at LEADon University® that directly relate to each of the EQ characteristics.  For improving Initiative, we’d suggest taking:

LEADing by Executing:  The Art of Getting Things Done!®

LEADing with Vision, Mission, and Values®

Each online course you take at LEADon University® will provide you with opportunities to grow and develop your leadership capabilities.  Remember, “opportunities are hidden everywhere, and people who see them are the ones who prosper. Make a habit of constantly asking yourself: ‘What opportunities for growth can I carve out of this situation?’” (see Anush Kostanyan’s October 2014 article, “9 Ways to Take More Initiative at Work,” at  What should you do to make the most of the situation you currently find yourself in—and how can you assist others to do the same? Perhaps acting on some of the suggestions above is a first step to developing more Initiative.

Despite the tremendous difficulties Mary Fields faced at the beginning of her life, she took advantage of changes and challenges to create new pathways to success.  Her life is a testament to how a little Initiative can go a long way. If the team at LEADon® can help you in your own leadership journey, please contact us at or call 858.592.0700 for a free consultation