This is the twenty-second installment in our 25 week series exploring the 25 competencies, or soft skills, that our assessments measure. Each week we’ll give you the definition of that competency, explain its value, and give you tips to help you develop it. This week: Self Starting.
Self Starting is a fairly self-explanatory skill. Formally, it is demonstrating initiative and willingness to begin working. Informally, it is about your ability to get yourself started. Self starters do not need to wait for direction from someone else. They find a task and get going.
Those who are skilled in Self Starting are able to maintain high levels of activity, even when they’re not being closely supervised. They prioritize tasks and just keep plugging away until they reach their goals. They are self-confident and self-assured and know what they’re good at and what they’re not. They bounce back quickly from setbacks because they don’t have time to sit around and mope, they have to keep moving!
To truly understand Self Starting, we need to ask a deeper question. Is Self Starting a learned skill or an innate characteristic? Some of it certainly is innate – we all know those people who just can’t sit still, who always need to be in motion, doing something. And certainly some of it is learned – knowing when to go ahead on your own and when to wait for direction. But some of it is based on the specific situation you’re in and whether you have the autonomy needed to just start something on your own. In order to be a self starter, not only do you need to drive to get things started, but you also have to have the knowledge and experience necessary to accomplish the task at hand and the authority to go out and do so.
If you are a manager it is important to make sure that you’ve created the right environment for them to self start before you write someone off as lacking initiative. Have you trained them how to complete the task? Have they demonstrated competence in doing so? Have you given them permission to go off on their own? Are they free to make mistakes along the way? Or do they get chewed out for any missteps? Only after you are certain that someone feels safe and comfortable stepping out on their own can you assess their true Self Starting abilities.
If you’d like to get better at Self Starting, you can start by setting goals for yourself, both personally and professionally. If you have set goals in mind, it is much easier to determine what the next steps should be. Knowing what your end goal is will help make the path to get there a lot clearer. You can set large goals and then break them down into smaller goals so you’ll always know where to head next. Even if you make a wrong turn, at least you’ll still be moving!
If you would like to learn more ways to improve your Self Starting skills, download our Self Starting Rx Suite here.