Most of my life I’ve been behind the scenes: backstage, behind the camera, off right, number two, backing someone up. Mostly by choice, sometimes by necessity.
See, it’s not that I wasn’t capable; sometimes, the person behind the scenes is really running the show. A linchpin, so to speak. This person wields power and shouldn’t be ignored.
What’s my point? Know the situation you’re in; the players, who’s involved in the decision-making process. Titles can be meaningless, and seating arrangements misleading. That marketing coordinator in a cubicle? He runs the marketing department; his company recently moved to an open concept floor plan (no offices).
I’ve seen so many situations where someone never has a chance — to win the business, to land that dream job, to be invited to partner with an innovative organization — because he ignores the assistant that he arrogantly assumes is worthless. She’s not; she may be one of the most powerful people in the room.
While you should be nice to everyone in general, there’s also something else at stake.
In today’s society, that receptionist taking your phone call could have the president’s ear — and be an integral part of the decision-making process. The barista making your drink at Starbucks could be a power player in your industry someday (soon) — or the daughter of the Fortune 500 CEO you’ve been after.
Don’t judge someone by the position she’s in at the moment or for trying to show gratitude. That ‘young lady’ carrying coffee you came in the building with? She’s not an intern or assistant; she’s the CMO you’re interviewing with. I hope you didn’t miss that opportunity!
Have you ever misread a situation? Assumed someone wasn’t important when he was? Been misread yourself?
Chime in with your experiences so we can all grow together.
Photo courtesy of Asian Development Bank on flickr