It’s so easy to absolve ourselves and pass the buck to someone else. When tensions arise in our respective domains it is natural to assign blame to another. No one wants to be held accountable for a mistake especially when others have been hurt. It takes courage to step up to the plate and assume responsibility.
Executive communication skills consist of how to negotiate, listen, speak truth without condemnation, encourage, facilitate, self disclose, goal set and lead. Perhaps the most overriding characteristic of executive communications skills is the notion of taking responsibility. Without taking responsibility none of the above will take place.
Taking responsibility for ourselves is actually one of the top executive communication skills. You and I are the chief executives of our own lives whether we know it or not. Many of us are only too glad to pass the baton to someone else when we take self inventory. We blame our parents, our workplaces, our bosses, our colleagues, our spouses, our country and even our religion.
Taking responsibility for ourselves keeps us from playing the victim role in the unfolding drama of our lives. It also enables us to face our workplace challenges with strength rather than allowing external forces to shape us.
Taking responsibility for who we are empowers us to mold our company’s plans around a strong vision. As an executive, as soon as we shift blame to others we relinquish our power and thereby lose all of our ability to solve the problem and lead others.
Taking responsibility means being prepared for action. A baseball coach teaching a young short stop how to field a fast rolling ball instructed him to attack the ball and not wait for it to come to him. It was up to the young player to make the play happen. This way he was always ready, poised for action, his brain turned on and his body prepared to respond to unforeseen bounces or deviations.
This is an apt metaphor for all of us leaders who, whether we like it or not, are in charge of our own game. We have the responsibility to be active, taking the play to the respective events of our lives.
This means claiming our freedom to make choices that represent the inner wishes and wants of our true selves and not wait for others to bring life to us or rubber stamp our decisions. Being in charge of our own lives means that we will be able to discharge our executive duties in the workplace with resolution and decisiveness.
There are some areas in life where we can exercise our freedom and influence outcomes more than others. Our sphere of influence has limitations with different relationships. We need to report to work on time.
We cannot ignore the wishes of our spouse or partner and luxuriate in self indulgence without damage to our relationships. Our mortgages need to be paid on time or we lose our homes.
Running our lives is about taking responsibility for the outcomes that we desire for ourselves and our situations. If we do this we will be positioned to take responsibility as leaders in the workplace too.
Being our own chief executive officer is a never-ending task of gaining exceptional executive communication skills. It enables us to become effective and accountable leaders of others as well. Remember ‘the buck stops here’. This is both a responsibility and thus becomes a tremendous freedom.