In this Topic, we’ll look at another opportunity to demonstrate conviction: filling action vacuums. Let’s say that you and a very senior person in the department are preparing for a huge, out-of-town customer meeting. The two of you are working on the strategy together, as well as handling the ultimate execution and all external interactions.
You, however, have reached a point of deep frustration with the project lead because she is failing to respond to your emails about who will cover what, when the two of you will travel, and what arguments the team will use. Without the lead’s response, you can’t plan your travel, so who knows what you’re going to do about childcare, and you don’t know which topics you should start working on. The clock is ticking.
Yes, this is frustrating. Yes, you (perhaps reasonably) wish things were different. Do you also see how you have landed in a place of inaction, an action vacuum?
So why wait? Flip this around and see if you can be the one to fill it. Here are some steps to consider taking to fill an action vacuum, take ownership, and drive things forward:
- Make recommendations, instead of thinking that’s the lead’s job
- Create the starting place, instead of waiting for the other person to do so
- Offer surface area for others to react to, instead of holding back (or hiding) until someone else puts some skin in the game
- Set up the planning cadence—or at least propose one!—instead of waiting passively for the lead to tell you how things are going to go
Why not try it? I can almost guarantee you will be happier than if you wait for someone else to make something happen.
Pro tip: this doesn’t mean you rigidly advocate for your position and have a meltdown when you don’t get your way. Nor does it mean you conclude you failed at this whole being executive thing if your boss or the project lead doesn’t like or choose to go with your ideas. What it does mean is this: you step into action and offer your contributions, as opposed to hanging back and waiting for someone else to do it and letting that be a source of frustration for yourself and possibly others. Let your choice to move into action be a useful step for everyone in terms of getting things going.