"Well, we're all at the same table now"
My first few weeks into my first corporate job at a Fortune 50 company and we are in small Workshop tables in a seminar. My bachelor’s degree and I are at a table with MDs, PharmDs, MBAs or other combinations of letters that made me feel inadequate. My insecurities may not have been noticeable, but someone said something that put me, and I am sure others at ease: “Well, we’re all at the same table now.”
That sentence signaled to me that my voice mattered, my opinion was relevant and my expertise in communications was represented by one person at that table... me. Therefore, if I didn’t speak my mind, then my discipline and years of experience would become less relevant to the conversation and potentially mar the importance of including communications in the minds of these colleagues.
When considering who you are as a leader, managing your team and setting them up for success with the right skills, tools and resources is paramount to their employee experience and your team’s collective success. However, it is also to your benefit to ensure they each feel empowered to have a seat at the table and a voice that will be respected.
A culture that encourages diversity of thought, of people with generational differences, perspectives, cultural experiences, pop culture references and educational backgrounds will make your team richer and your outputs more impactful.
I once had an opportunity to come up with a new campaign name for a client program. I had learned that the campaign name could signal something more provocative than this prospective Fortune 500 company was intending to insinuate. My lead client was so ingrained in consensus, he did not have an awareness of this language nuance. I had a chance to say something early enough that no one was embarrassed in the client meeting.
Time served is not the only relevant factor at a business meeting. In fact, those with fewer years of experience in the industry, but more experience with newer technology or understanding of what drives a sub-set of the population, may prove to be as valuable. So when asked to take your seat, find your voice.