Later, and less

December 20, 2018

I was sitting in a board meeting at my condo association a few weeks ago listening to the manager give an update.

Normally, when people speak, I try to give them the courtesy of my attention: devices away, eyes on the speaker. I also tend to make comments and ask clarifying questions.

Obviously, a ten-person meeting isn't going to be a 50/50 conversation. But what struck me was how little I found myself speaking (as a board member) relative to the manager—it felt unnatural. But then I realized, this is part of the daily routine of powerful people.

Friends have conversations. Subordinates give information and wait for the boss to give direction, generally after the subordinate speaks.

If you're like me and not used to giving orders, it feels very unnatural to let someone speak for minutes at a time, while you just sit there, staring at them. But that's the day-to-day for many boards and deliberative bodies.

If you want to be in charge, there are all kinds of behaviors you have to learn that, at least in my case, didn't come from home or school. I'm reminded of two great essays on this topic: Rands's Act Last, Read the Room, and Taste the Soup, and Ben Horowitz's How to Minimize Politics in Your Company.

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