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Understanding proactive leadership

Advances in Global Leadership

ISBN: 978-0-85724-467-3, eISBN: 978-0-85724-468-0

ISSN: 1535-1203

Publication date: 24 January 2011


This chapter discusses proactive leadership by elaborating the meaning of leaders' proactivity, the required competencies of proactive leadership, and the potentially different evaluations of leaders' proactivity by different observers, including leaders themselves, their supervisors, peers, and subordinates. Specifically, based on the goal generation – goal striving process view of proactivity, we define leaders' proactivity as “generating and enacting self-initiated and future-focused leading actions that are persistently sustained to bring changes toward the environment.” In line with the process view, we also propose the competency requirement of proactive leadership, by benchmarking against a scientifically developed, comprehensive competency dictionary, the Universal Competency Framework (UCF). Finally, we discuss the possibility that leaders' proactivity can be observed and evaluated differently by raters at different positions. Overall, this chapter provides a conceptual analysis of proactive leadership and points to potential research directions subject to empirical investigation.


Wu, C. and Wang, Y. (2011), "Understanding proactive leadership", Mobley, W.H., Li, M. and Wang, Y. (Ed.) Advances in Global Leadership (Advances in Global Leadership, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 299-314.



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