It seems redundant to admonish a leader to be a leader, but this admonishment is really about being proactive. So many leaders wait to see what happens and then leading the organization to reacting rather than responding. Don’t wait for something to happen, make it happen. The future belongs to those who are willing to take the necessary actions to create it.
There is no better example of the advantage of being proactive than the sales clerk or order taker who patiently waits for a potential buyer to make contact compared to the professional sales who goes out and creates buyers of what they sell.
Leadership is about selling, convincing and communicating. It is not simply about being reactive to situations that arise. Leadership requires being proactive, looking for opportunities to be a leader. The pro and con preceding some words suggest opposites, something like the difference between progress and congress, but that’s a different discussion. Being proactive is more appropriately compared to being reactive. A reactive leader waits for the opportunity to arrive and then reacts to the situation, while a proactive leader seeks an opportunity to lead. Even that word comparison has flaws. Consider the difference between being reactive and responsive. When you are sick and take a drug for relief, you hope your body responds but does not react negatively to the drug.
Football brings a wonderful example of leadership. The coach is the manager who sends in the plays from the sideline, the quarterback is often the leader on the field who calls those plays in the huddle. But, the real leader may be a tackle or guard who has the enthusiasm and charisma to keep all of the players performing at their peak. Most team sports have a similar thread: leadership is not a matter of position but action.