Proactivity: not just a simple soft skill

Within the business world, one hears more and more about soft skills and hard skills, a combination of skills that are crucial to launching a successful career path. Soft skills or soft skills are now considered strategic knowledge and attitudes for launching a successful career, now as important as the more technical, quantifiable and objectively measurable ones.

If hard skills are acquired during the course of study and deepened, improved, during work, the so-called soft skills concern the sphere closely related to personality, attitudes, communication styles and the set of empathic and expressive skills that are inherent in every person. In the labor market, among the skills most in demand is proactivity.

With respect to entrepreneurship, the Entrecomp framework takes up the theme of proactivity within the competencies related to action and initiative by making the concept explicit in three particular points:

  • Initiating processes that create value;
  • Meeting challenges;
  • Act and work independently to achieve goals, stay true to intentions, and carry out expected tasks.

What is proactivity? 

We can define proactivity as the ability to take action independently within the scope of one’s responsibilities and tasks, working personally in order to obtain the necessary information and anticipating possible future problems.

How do you recognize a proactive person?

  • Actively acts in situations by identifying possibilities and opportunities in the context;
  • Engages in the performance of his/her own activities;
  • Spontaneously proposes ideas, observations, interpretations, solutions;
  • Thinks outside the box;
  • Is aware of the responsibilities of one’s role and works to understand and manage any nuances and boundaries of the same;
  • is curious, seeks clarification and asks questions;
  • Works not only on current contingencies but also in relation to future contingencies;
  • Is in constant search of stimulation and opportunities for improvement for herself and her work.

What to do to improve proactivity?

Implementing this particular soft skill is not easy as it is a mode of approach, an attitude to things that requires some effort that is not exactly immediate and inherent in every individual. There are, however, small details to pay attention to in order to improve proactivity.  For example, giving adequate space for reflection, thinking about any critical issues that may arise or unforeseen events that may interfere within a new situation and studying the appropriate moves to avoid them, to take them in the best possible way, to be ready to react and thus prevent them. Similarly, one could learn to train more in problem management and problem solving and risk acceptance by training oneself in more detailed periodic planning and evaluation of one’s work by setting goals and priorities.

Finally, being proactive also means taking on tasks that are not greater than one’s own capabilities or task: a proactive person does not passively suffer the initiative of others and does not wait for others to decide or act before him or in his place.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them. 2021-1-NO01-KA220-VET-000033203

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