One Essential Trait of a Leader Is…Initiative

Editor's Note: This post was submitted in response to Ms. JD's She Leads essay prompt: "One Essential Trait of a Leader is ..." Ms. JD: She Leads will take place October 5, 2012 in Washington, DC and will feature keynote speeches from Marne Levine, the VP of Global Public Policy at Facebook and the DQs.  To learn more about Ms. JD: She Leads and to register, click here.

There are plenty of people out there who always do what they are told to do.  As humans, one of the first things we are taught as young children is how to follow directions. For the most part, we are good at following these instructions.  However, the trait that makes the individual stand out from the crowd is initiative. Initiative distinguishes a leader because it’s not just about doing what is told, but rather finding new ways to do more.  If a leader’s job is to build progress, then initiative is how that progress can be built.

Leaders understand that you have to find new paths and creative modes in order to accomplish something. It is not enough just to have mere thoughts about your goal. Thoughts and words are nothing until they culminate into actions. Leaders put their first foot forward so that others can follow by example.

The funny thing about being a student is that oftentimes students are use to waiting for instructions in order to do anything. Students wait to hear from the professor before they begin a homework assignment. They wait for someone to give them guidelines for a paper. Students wait for firms to come to their school in order to learn about how to get recruited for a job. As a student, initiative is not something you often have to take to meet your requirements. It is, nonetheless, crucial for a student to learn to take initiative in order to become a leader. It’s the students who learn to reach out and take initiative on their own that can make the most of their leadership role.  The initiators are the ones who get more than what is just required. They reach to get the best.

Bahar J. Dave is a part-time 1L at American University, Washington College of Law.  She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University where she majored in International Politics.  She currently is the Center Coordinator and New Projects Manager at COTELCO, a global governance and technology research center.  In her spare time, she teaches Bollywood dance for Dhoonya Dance and runs the tutoring and college prep company, ivypoint Prep.

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