I regularly go to a weight-lifting workout class at the gym. It’s a great class that works all your muscle groups in a 60-minute session. Last weekend, I went to a different timeslot, and an instructor I had never had before, was leading the class. What struck me in this session was how confident, in charge, totally present, and absolutely engaged he was as he demonstrated each move. He self-assuredly shouted out super motivating comments and you could just feel how much he loved what he was doing.

He owned the room.

This was so striking because it was in sharp contrast to some of the instructors I’ve had over the seven years I’ve been taking this class. Some continuously apologize and point out every mistake they make in the tempo. Others say nothing and just workout for you to watch, as if they are working out themselves. Still others look hurried and as if they are in another world, with little or no interaction with the participants. And even others try to engage, but are timid or act embarrassed in their attempts.

They shrink in the room.

It made me think of my clients in coaching sessions and leadership programs and the area that comes up a lot— leadership presence.

So my leadership development questions for you this week are simple.

Do you own the room?

  • Are you fully engaged and totally present when you are engaging with or leading others?
  • Are you confident and self-assured, without taking yourself too seriously?
  • Do you silence your self-critical, self-conscious thoughts and focus entirely on what you are doing and having fun with it?

Or do you shrink in the room?

  • Do you constantly doubt your contribution and your value?
  • Do you over-apologize and constantly point out your short-comings?
  • Do you look harried, rushed, and distracted?
  • Are you so focused on yourself and the impression you are making that you leave little room to focus on anything else?
  • Are you taking yourself too seriously?

What changes do you need to make to show up and own the room?

(PS: Interesting side note: All the previous instructors I mentioned were women. A coincidence? Maybe so. But I can’t help but wonder about gender and confidence…)