As the CEO, you’re the face of the company. You lead a group of employees, negotiate deals with CEOs of other large businesses, manage the budget, and confidently stand in front of executives week after week in the conference room to present new strategies, but when it comes to conversing with staff at a holiday party, the thought makes you freeze in place. It’s not uncommon. Any bit of research will show countless leaders who feel the same way. A CEO is used to leading with authority, so taking them out of that element for a holiday party can feel daunting. If you find yourself thinking about a way to get out of the holiday party this year, these tips should help you keep anxiety in check.
As a CEO, you should be able to loosen your tie a bit and unwind, but you still need to keep it professional. Dress appropriately and limit your alcohol consumption to a max of two drinks. You don’t want to use alcohol as a way to ease your fears because you might end up overindulging and saying regrettable things.
If you have a large staff, you might not know all your employees very well, and some of them may feel intimated by you. Try to be as approachable as possible, and introduce yourself to employees you may not work with as often as others. Be sure to include their guests too (which is usually a spouse). Remember that they may be just as nervous to talk to you as you are to them.
Make Talking Points
If you’re nervous or unsure how to interact with employees, come up with talking points in advance. DO NOT talk about work, whether it is to vent or discuss the vision for the company. It’s a party, so conversations about work are out of the question. If you don’t know your staff that well, talk to a well-connected member of your team that can provide basic details on staff and topics to discuss with them. You’ll avoid awkward small talk this way.
Don’t be afraid to take a step back if you need to. If the party is feeling a bit overwhelming, take a step back from the crowd and have a seat. Chances are, someone will come up to engage you in an interesting conversation, and you’ll be more relaxed sitting down away from the crowd. And remember, you don’t have to stay all night. It’s fine for you to go home before the party ends. In fact, it might be considered more acceptable, because some employees might not feel as if they can fully let loose otherwise.
If you’re still a bit nervous, try doing a quick power pose (basically, mimic the superman pose) before you go in the room. Studies show it will make you feel more confident and powerful!