When Mark Zuckerberg entered the US Senate hearing about Facebook’s role in the 2016 election and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he brought one special item with him.
It wasn’t a lawyer (although he had plenty of those), it wasn’t a coach (although it seemed like he had had plenty of that). No, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world wanted something that wouldn’t make him seem small sitting in his chair – so he brought a cushion.
What Zuckerberg and his team knew was that appearance is a significant part on how people perceive you, and thus how they will treat you. But he wouldn’t have founded and now be running the behemoth that is Facebook if he didn’t know he also had to go beyond this surface level.
In front of some of the most powerful people in the world, never mind just the United States, Zuckerberg demonstrated how he has moved from social awkward teen to a fully-fledged CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He wasn’t perfect – the online memes tell you that – but the truth is that the stock price of Facebook went up significantly on his performance.
Was this because he had a silver bullet fact that destroyed all the arguments against Facebook? No, indeed he admitted to the mistakes they made.
Was it because the Senators were out of their depth in terms of their knowledge of social media? Maybe, but Zuckerberg counteracted most interactions with solid answers, and deflected the probing questions for later answering.
Was it because he brought a cushion? No, but it is part of the story…
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IMI Talking Leadership Podcast: Paula Mullin – Executive Presence
Why do certain leaders have the ability to really engage, inspire and move people to act?
We talk to Paula Mullin, IMI Connect Lounge Speaker and Executive Coach, about Executive Presence and what it can teach leaders in how they should package themselves in order to drive their business, and teams, to success.
Hugh Torpey is the Content Manager at the IMI. This article is based on a Connect Lounge talk given at the IMI by Paula Mullin for IMI Members. For more on IMI Membership, go here.