“The guy you’ll be working with is really difficult/demanding/brutal with staff…” I’ve heard variations on that theme in advance of leading certain media training workshops. Once in the room, however, I sometimes wonder what these people were talking about.
Is the boss direct? Yes. To the point? To be sure. Suffers fools gladly? Not on your life.
I say all this not to make myself sound wonderfully in command of every situation, but to emphasize the importance of “owning the room.” It’s a psychological approach that works for me. No matter if it’s the client’s favorite conference room or their on site studio. The way I figure it, for the time I’m leading the workshop, that’s my territory.
I rearrange things for maximum results (putting it all back together at the end as originally found, of course). My videographers and I decide upon things like the best angle and lighting for shots during our practice rounds. And I make sure we have basics like water and light refreshments to keep everyone sustained through what is a demanding time, both mentally and physically.
The result of all this preparation? When that demanding executive enters the room, he sees someone in charge. In some cases, he is not accustomed to that. I’ve seen too many “yes people” who only want to satisfy the boss and cling to their jobs. You’ve probably seen them, too. They enter the room with slumped shoulders, exhibit low levels of eye contact, and end their sentences with an upward tone as if it were a question instead of a solid piece of advice.
Why do they see their principal as someone who walks all over people? Because they give him license to walk all over them. I‘m out to establish a peer-to-peer relationship, not one of subservience.
Good leaders like to be challenged. They show little respect for the meek. In fact, they will eat those toadies alive.
What’s the upshot of all this? When you enter a room as a professional—stride in with head held high, back straight, and shoulders straight. Make solid eye contact. Offer a firm handshake. In short, take ownership of that room.