How well do you “hold the power” in rooms of significance? Can you? Or do you admire others for this and wish you could too?
I coach lots of business professionals in their leadership transition. That involves many facets of human behaviour and influencing skills. Quite often, alignment is sought between the coachee, the line manager and the coach regarding the outcomes expected from the coaching assignment.
A common expectation from the managers is that the coachee needs to learn to step up at more comfortably “holding the power in the room“.
Holding The Power In The Room – What Does That Mean?
We’re familiar with the term “holding your own“, aren’t we? That is to be able to stand up for yourself, particularly in the face of adversity. In this blog, this is about taking and holding the “power” in a room full of people you need to impress or influence.
The Power In Your Presence
In Presence I speak about how certain people just seem to “stand out above the others”. That doesn’t mean having a large physical presence, although that helps. It does mean having a confident poise that gives the power vibe that you have something to say and expect to be listened to.
I refer to “having an engaging personality”, which means maintaining a friendly and respectful demeanour. And it shouldn’t tone down or distract from your confident and assured presence.
That includes keeping your smile, even if you’re seething underneath. And it should always remember to “play the ball, never the player“.
The Power of Summarizing
In The Power of Summarizing, I speak about the power you take hold of by getting up from your seat, say in a meeting, walking to the whiteboard and summary dotting key points you wish to emphasize. Another very “power grabbing” gesture is to take the whiteboard marker off the person holding it.
Summarizing also helps to focus on the more strategic, the big picture and forces you to stay away from the detail – a no-no in these “senior rooms”.
The Power of Your Engagement
Maintaining open body postures, plus using gestures and animation that show you mean business help enhance your perceived power. Showing your palms in your hand gestures serves to show people you have nothing to hide and adds to your Authenticity.
Maintaining solid eye contact with those you are speaking with helps. Not staring or arrogant, but confident. Depending on the context and situation, this eye contact can sometimes be a little forceful, even aggressive to help try to intimidate the other person into looking down or looking away.
Having researched and practised using “their language” will also help your confidence as you use it to strengthen your rapport. How? You know I strongly subscribe to the notion that “Leaders are Readers”. And that I always coach that you “network at your level and above“.
The Power of Preparation
Of course a confident presence is strongly supported by “knowing your stuff”. So having done your homework and being suitably prepared, armed with the right research adds to your ability to “hold your own”. Often that is all you need to put yourself into a power frame of mind that can enable you to weather all sorts of challenge without losing your composure, even if the going gets tough.
Having prepared yourself helps maintain your Mindfulness
The Power of Your Entrance
So before walk into the room, find a space in which you can take some deep breaths and focus your mind quietly on your presence. Visualize a successful outcome to the purpose you are entering the room for. Draw energy from the picture in your mind’s eye of (important) people stretching out to shake your hand. Or from that “kick ass” feeling when something goes just soooo well, from what you hear people are saying about you. Then put a smile on your face, select an upright, confident posture, shoulders up and back, chin up and “make your entrance”.
You probably know who will be in the room. Making eye contact as you enter, make a point of walking up to someone of importance to you and your cause and confidently greeting them or stretching your hand out. Gestures that show you aren’t going to wait for them to notice you. Gestures that show you expect to be acknowledged. That you feel you deserve to be and that you belong in that room. Even if at first you may still be struggling a little with that notion.
Picking Your Moments
If you are “new” to this level of room you will of course want to pick your moments to confidently contribute to the meeting. Active listening has you “on the pulse”. Asking incisive and challenging questions can show you know your stuff without having to make statements to do so. Of course openly challenging or dropping a surprise on “the boss” in front of others isn’t the smartest move, but sometimes you can do so quite diplomatically and forcefully with the right form of question.
Don’t be afraid to use pauses to hold your listeners attention.
As always before important meetings or presentations, you will want to have ascertained the positions of key stakeholders to what is being discussed or reviewed or approved. While you will always learn a lot from such meetings, irrespective of your maturity or experience, preparation should serve to not to be seen or caught out by surprises.
Holding The Room. So What?
So what might one of the most obvious and the most powerful means of learning how to be “holding the power in the room” be? Identify and observe people you admire, that are really good at this. And whichever way you can, find opportunities to express your admiration about that to them, so as to seek some mentoring advice and pointers from them. Pick certain attributes you know will also work for you and your persponality.
The watching is easy. Getting that coffee might be more tricky. But then, how much do you want to get good at this important skill?
What if you could?
Heiner Karst says
Love it! Great insight Segun, thanx for sharing it. I’m thinking there may be a blog in that topic soon.