Could you tell me if there is any difference between take the initiative and show initiative? For example:
Micheal is someone who takes the initiative.
Micheal is someone who shows initiative.
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The two formats are so similar most native speakers woulds barely distinguish them, but to the extent that there is a difference...
show initiative - primarily describes a character attribute (you don't need much supervision / guidance, you can make your own decisions)
take the initiative - primarily describes an action (you did something when others demurred, because you're "bolder")
Let's look at two definitions from Macmillan dictionary:
- UNCOUNTABLE the ability to decide in an independent way what to do and when to do it
Example: Mr Hills showed initiative and bravery when dealing with a dangerous situation.
- the initiative, the opportunity to take action before other people do take the initiative
Example: She would have to take the initiative in order to improve their relationship.
I think that between takes the initiative and shows initiative, the difference lies in the aspects of take and show. Take is a more active verb and refers to undertaking an action, that of doing something without being asked. Look at this definition from Collins
If you take the initiative in a situation, you are the first person to act, and are therefore able to control the situation.
Whereas show is more static and refers rather to demonstrating the quality/ability of assessing and initiating things independently (Targetjobs gives more interesting descriptions) or of being proactive as the site indeed.com shows.
When you type "show initiative" in Google, you get entries for both expressions though, because they are so very connected and used especially in work environments. Some even use them as synonyms.
However, the difference is definitely there, well spotted!
These are two different idioms.
To 'take the initiative' means to be opportunistic. For example, if you saw that a job or task needed doing but it was not your direct responsibility, you might take the initiative to do it.
To 'show initiative' means to demonstrate that you have the ability to see when a job or task requires action without prompting.
You can recognise the difference by the choice of preposition in their common usage. For example:
So, to summarise, one means to do something opportunistically, the other means someone can recognise what needs to be done.