Graduate Coach Pick of the Top 5 TED Talks on Developing Your Initiative

Oct 20, 2016

It’s an unusual employer that will not ask you to demonstrate times when you’ve taken the initiative during a job interview.

Soft skills are personal qualities that enable us to interact well with other people and they are always likely to come during job interviews. The ability to use one’s initiative is a soft skill that is valued by employers as it demonstrates that you are capable of problem-solving, creativity, working independently, and being resourceful and innovative. You may even be a leader.

So how can you develop your initiative skills? Find inspiration from our ‘Top 5 TED Talks on Developing your Initiative’.

Tim Harford: Trial, error and the God complex

Tim Harford researches complex systems. He has realised that the most successful systems have been developed through a process of trial and error. Of course it is through trial and error that we learn most things in life.

In this intriguing talk, Harford asks us not to be afraid of making mistakes and he encourages spontaneity and randomness in our thinking. He warns against the ‘God complex’ which is the ‘overwhelming belief that you are infallibly right in your solution’. Instead he advocates an approach based on humility.

Though ‘trial and error’ may sound like an obvious approach, Harford points out that it should be used more in schools. Open-ended questions where there isn’t a right or wrong answer would lead children to think and experiment more. It would lead them to use their initiative.

Linda Hill: How to manage for collective creativity

Linda Hill has studied some of the most creative companies around the globe to discover the best ways to keep great ideas flowing. She also believes in inclusivity, so every person in an organisation should be involved in this creative process.

She has discovered that the usual methods of leadership don’t always work when it comes to leading innovation. Innovators are those who learn to listen, to enquire and to refine their ideas through a process of experimentation. Even if you get a negative outcome in an experiment, you’re still learning, and this is an important part of the process.

Through this thought-provoking talk, Hill encourages us to use our initiative and give every great idea a chance.

Drew Dudley: Everyday leadership

In this humorous talk, Drew Dudley expresses his view that we have all changed someone’s life for the better, even if we haven’t realised it. Leadership shouldn’t be seen as something that is beyond us; we are all leaders because we have all done remarkable things for others. Ultimately, leadership is about improving each other’s lives and so we should accept this as one of our innate capabilities.

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Simon Sinek introduces us to a simple model for effective and initiative-taking leadership. He begins by asking the question, ‘How do you explain how others are able to achieve things that seem to defy all of the assumptions?’ In other words, why do some people or organisations achieve great things while others do not? Sinek believes it is because they think, act and communicate in a unique way. By using Sinek’s model of the ‘golden circle’, their success can be better explained. And having a cause, a belief or a purpose is integral to this success.

Bryan Stevenson: We need to talk about injustice

If you want to be inspired by someone who has truly taken the initiative himself, listen to this moving talk about Bryan Stevenson’s work as a public-interest lawyer in the USA.

Stevenson talks about the power of identity. He explains that a third of America’s black male population has been imprisoned at some time in their lives. Poverty is another factor that can lead people to being incarcerated.

Through his ability to step back and observe the American legal system, Stevenson is able to analyse and criticise it. He also wholeheartedly adopts a caring and compassionate approach in his work. This inspiring talk demonstrates how taking the initiative and responsibility can literally change lives.

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