Later today I will head off on a flight to London, on route to Brussels. My task will be to deliver two presentations on Thursday, including an opening plenary at an international conference.
A little over a month ago, I received notice from the conference organizers that the Queen of Belgium, Queen Mathilde will be attending my opening keynote, and as such there will be a whole bunch of pomp and circumstance and protocols that we will have to honor. Having never presented to a member of a Royal Family, I must admit there is something unique and novel about the experience I will have.
Whenever we are confronted with a situation where we are in the presence of individuals seen in society as being powerful, rich, famous or important, it conjures up a range of responses. I would be lying to say that there isn’t an added sense of pressure and desire to “do well” when speaking with Queen Mathilde sitting in the front row with her entourage. So, am I “fit for a queen?” Are you fit for a queen? How do you respond and react in the presence of importance or power?
I recall as a child always thinking it was bizarre, the way in which people would idolize rock stars or other celebrities. I have met some important people in my life, and have enjoyed telling about it. However, I have simply never been one to gawk in awe at someone of apparent stature based on wealth, fame or position.
In the world of business, there are lots of strata’s and hierarchy’s that we find ourselves interacting with. How do you treat others in positions of power or perceived power? I learned a long time ago, that we must all treat each other as equals. In the world of business, I look at every client as an equal, regardless of how important they are in the social network of society. This applies to the way I work with the President of a massive international corporation and the way I work with the new up and coming entrepreneur who is initially just trying to survive. Certainly I may pay additional attention to the key decision maker in a business transaction, and I would also defer to others who have greater knowledge and experience on issues. However, I approach every situation considering myself to be equal to all others, and all others equal to me.
There is a tremendous amount of freedom, confidence and power that comes with taking the stance of being equal, even to the individual you are negotiating with or presenting to. So, am I fit for a queen? Yes, in fact I am, and I expect she will be enriched, challenged and better off having heard my presentation later this week, as if she chooses to, she will learn something from my knowledge, experience and expertise.
After all, she doesn’t have to be there. I have been asked to speak about how to successfully scale up large initiatives on a national level. I was asked to do this because I have had success doing this in the Canadian context. Are you fit for a queen? Well that all depends on how you choose to look at it and the mindset you choose to take in your business and leadership endeavors.
Cameron’s Call to Action
- If you struggle to see yourself as an equal with others in the business world and therefore become intimidated, own this and make a conscious decision to change your perception. It is just a perception, and it’s one that could be getting in the way of your effectiveness.
- Identify at least two or three relationships that could benefit from you walking in equality, rather than taking the “one down” all the time. Then, step it up and start leading, negotiating and acting like an equal, because you are.
- Identify at least two or three relationships where you have tended to see yourself as greater as a way to make yourself more powerful. Take steps to speak to these individuals in a way that shows that you believe they are equal and not lesser than you. Watch how transformative it can be to treat others in this way.