Today’s blog is by special request… from my wonderful right hand gal, Christie. It was sparked by a meeting we had yesterday where we, Team Nexus, were facilitating a board room meeting with a high performing sales team. When I asked her why she has requested this specific blog she replied with “when walking into a boardroom of men who are experienced in both age and career, it is almost like walking into a lion’s den – and I am not sure how to handle it – but you seem to do it with ease…. so I want to know the secret and I’m sure others do as well”.
I have to admit – when I sat down to write this blog I found it really challenging as I was unsure which “secrets” she was referring to – I simply “get in there and get on with it”… but was I always this way? It was an eye opening experience to think back to the days when I didnt “get in there and get on with it”… I started to remember the nerves, the feeling of inadequacy the dread of stuffing up, of not being heard and most importantly – letting my team down and not delivering on what I had promised.
So I taught myself the art of dealing with the lion’s den… or more specifically, the art of being a young female professional walking into a board room of experienced and professional men. Here is how I do it…
1. the 5 Ps…. “Preperation prevents a piss poor performance”… if you are going to walk into a board room meeting with people that can possibly intimidate you, the best weapon is to be prepared at all times – know your “stuff” better than they do, have an agenda, an objective and know your specific outcomes for the meeting.
2. When you walk in, go to every single person in that room, shake hands (firmly) whilst looking them in the eye – let them know you are there, you mean business and you are not afraid to be the expert.
3. If you are running the meeting, set the agenda with certainty… don’t look for approval…. no one cares!
4. If you are participating, then participate – if you don’t feel confident – no one cares… and they will smell your fear – the lions will circle!
5. In your introduction, give them some background info on yourself – this is your elevator pitch and gives you the opportunity to show them why they need to listen to you…. establish your own credibility.
6. Expect to be tested every step of the way… strong alpha men like to ensure you know who’s boss – I ensure that they know I know… but then I also allow them to see that they have an equal in the room that needs to be respected. If they talk over me, I call them on it, if they don’t listen to what I have to say – I call them on it… in short – don’t let them get away with their “crap”. (note, there maybe more than one alpha male or “resistant” male…make sure you cover them all off – don’t let them get away with it, or you will lose the test)
7. Keep on topic…. another way they will try to manipulate the situation is by talking about topics that are unrelated – this is ok to a point i.e building relationships, however, you are there to do a job – so keep them on track my favourite line here is “I’m conscious of your time gents, lets keep moving” – this allows their egos to be stroked while maintaining control.
8. Summarise and give actions – Another way to show your knowldge and credibility is to show your ability to accurately summarise the meeting and to give actions. it sounds simple, but it shows that you are in control and you are assuming accountability and responsibility – showing you as the natural leader we all know you can be. Make sure you follow up on all actions and ensure everyone is completing them.
9. Finally, as you leave, again shake hands and thank them for their time.
When walking into a board room meeting, it is so important to establish yourself as someone who is in control and for this to happen there is no room for fear or lack of confidence. Even if you have to fake up to a certain point – until you start believing in your own abilitities…. then do it!
Take a deep breath and enter that den…. chances are its full of hot air and shite anyway!