I hear the debate often. Where is the best place at a board table to command the most respect? Commanding respect is a quality of good leadership. Many people argue sitting at the head of the table demonstrates leadership. Often board room tables take the shape of your typical long rectangle. In a conventional board room there are two ends. There is the end where a person presents (the front) and then the end where the person receiving the presentation sits (the rear).
Being at the front immediately identifies you as the center of attention. Being at the rear signifies you are the person whose opinion matters most.
Taking a seat to the side of the person sitting at the rear signifies a vizier spot (a person who is trusted to advice). Sitting in the middle along either side signifies you are an attendee.
So which seat commands the most respect?
In my experience the conventional board room seat selection process should start with a very basic step. The first step should be to identify what “type” of meeting is being called. Annual Meetings have certain purposes. Special Meetings called to address financial reports have different purposes. A meeting called for a major corporate move has a different meaning all together.
The most important seat at the table will always be the one that you are most qualified to fill.
Is the Chief Executive Officer the most skilled accountant? Is the Human Relations Director the most qualified staffer? Is the Chief Operating Officer the life blood of operations? When you are approaching the board room you need to select your seat carefully. The board room is a place to work magic with your team to produce results. I held three annual meetings as the former vice chair of my former biotechnology company. My former company would go on to win a United States Department of Agriculture Public Private Partnership (P3). The P3 would be to conduct research into anti-fungal crops vital to US national security. The contract we were awarded was the highest research contract available with this US Government Agency. This contract is called a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). Lobbyists spend millions of dollars a year to land this type of contract. The CRADA was my previous company’s crowning achievement. In order to achieve a CRADA you have to have 1) sufficient capitalization, 2) solvency, 3) cutting edge science, and 4) well documented research track records.
Every year I sat at the front of the table. I sat at the front because my job was to “capitalize” our company. During the first 3 years the most important thing for the company was raising capital. Then a time came where the focus of our board meeting wasn’t about money raises. The focus of the board meeting was about advancing our “science”. It was at this moment despite my expectations, despite my efforts, and despite my organizational skills I would no longer sit at the head. I had to recognize that the annual meeting was a place to “produce” results. The annual meeting was a place for me to sit where I was best placed. At my final board meeting I sat to the side of the rear. I had only two line items to speak on. My last board agenda covered seven topics. My last attended board meeting was the most productive of our company.
Everyone wants to admire the spot they are in. A lot of people want to hold on to the position they have for an indefinite amount of time. The reality of life is that forever does not exist. The best thing you can do as an Entrepreneur is recognize that your time will come and go. The best thing you can do as a Professional Entrepreneur is anticipate your time’s end. We all want to be great forever. We all want to sit at the head of a table. The head of the table is for the person presenting. The person presenting needs to be the most important part of a meeting. Learn to classify the relevance of your objective. Learn to understand how to make the most of your time. Learn how to know when it’s your time to hand off the seat. Learn to recognize when it’s someone else’s time. Learn how to kill your ego. Only one with an excessive amount of hubris sits at the head of the table every time. Learn your seat and know your seat will change. When it does be happy it does. Changing your seat means you’ve accomplished your goals.
About Christopher: Christopher Knight Lopez is a Professional Entrepreneur. Christopher has opened over 7 businesses in his 14-year career. Christopher’s purpose is to take advantage of various market-driven opportunities. Christopher is a certified Master Project Manager (MPM) and Accredited Financial Analyst (AFA). Christopher previously held his Series 65 securities license. Christopher also has his General Lines — Life, Accident, Health & HMO. Christopher has managed a combined 286mm USD in reported Assets Under Management & Assets Under Advisement. Christopher has work experience in 29 countries, raised over 50mm USD for various businesses, and grossed over 7.5mm in his personal career. Christopher worked in the highly technical industries of: biotechnology, finance, securities, manufacturing, real estate, and residential mortgages. Christopher is a United States Air Force Veteran. Christopher has a passion for family, competitive sports, fishing, martial arts and advocacy for entrepreneurs. Christopher provides self-help classes for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Christopher’s passion to mentor comes from belief that entrepreneurs need guidance. The world is full of conflicting information about entrepreneur identity. See more at www.christopherklopez.com