Do you often wish that you could have a seat at the leadership table and listen to or be a part of the important conversations? That you’re missing out on something crucial because you’re lacking that seat. It reminds me of the Hamilton song where Aaron Burr craves being in the center of leadership with Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton. Burr mournfully sings:
No one really knows how the game is played
The art of the trade
How the sausage gets made
We just assume that it happens…
I wanna be in the room where it happens (I’ve got to be, I’ve got to be)
This is a feeling that many of us can relate to. It can feel that there’s yet another table that’s agonizingly out of reach, whether it’s a key leadership meeting, a C-suite powwow, or the board meeting. We’ve all been there. And sometimes, frustratingly, that’s not the most healthy or helpful thing to focus on.
What’s in your control is how you show up in the rooms that you’re already a part of. And how you show up is going to impact and affect the likelihood of an invitation to the bigger rooms.
Consider these 4 lessons as a reminder on how to own your seat at the table:
1. The dinner party metaphor: understand your patterns and habits
Think about a setting that you’re already familiar with, a dinner party. Take your mind back to those pre-pandemic times and remember some of the best dinner parties that you’ve attended. Consider the role that you typically play. Do any of these sound familiar?
- The host who has assembled this group of unique individuals
- The chef (or Grubhub account holder) who’s chosen the menu
- The storyteller who entertains with witty anecdotes
- The connector who draws everyone into the experience
- The jester who adds lightness to the conversation
- The appreciator who brings a sense of grace and gratitude to the gathering
At the dinner party, there are no silent observers —everybody plays a role. It’s not enough to simply want to be in the room “just to listen and gain context.” That’s not offering up additional value.