Insatiable Initiative

I walk into the office on a warm Friday afternoon to find Freshmen Entrepreneurs Club member Nina Stapanov peering over a pile of boxes with tape in one hand and markers in another. “The closet is a mess so I’m cleaning it up!” declares Nina with a smile. She is right – the club’s closet in our Curry Student Center office is a disaster with old napkins and pens littering the shelves. Over 2 hours later, Nina is beaming in front of the closet and I cannot believe my eyes: all of our materials are in labeled boxes, the shirts are organized by size and a year’s worth of junk is discarded. “This is incredible Nina, thank you!” I say. What blows my mind is not how great the closet looks, but how Nina took initiative to do a mundane task without even being asked. Nobody assigned it to her and it isn’t in her job description; in fact, she doesn’t even start her role as Assistant Director of Marketing until next fall. Instead, Nina took it upon herself to clean out the closet because she is a team player who truly cares. She will do whatever she believes will better our organization, and the closet cleanup is just the most recent example. This exemplifies why Nina is such a great member of our team. I don’t need to delegate things to her; instead, she will take it upon herself to look for problems and fix them. 

Situations like this make me proud to be a leader of such a high performing team with people like Nina as a part of it. The absolute best case as a manager is when your people manage themselves. In other words, they do not need to wait for things to be delegated to them; instead, they are go-getters who seek out opportunities to add value. These are the teammates that are going to give the organization the highest ROI, and I’d hire them over and over again. While looking for character traits like passion, dedication and a “go-getter” attitude is key in recruiting, the organization must have a culture that backs up that attitude. The Entrepreneurs Club fosters an environment where we respect and reward people who go above and beyond. We take job descriptions very lightly – ultimately everybody is responsible for everything. As a result, our team members push to support every facet of the organization, even the cleanliness of the closet.

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