Issue Number 12: Leadership and Team Meetings

Something as simple as the way you conduct team meetings sends a powerful message and provides an opportunity to nurture trust at both the individual and corporate level.

Consider a person we will call “Crane.” Crane was a leader who said all the right things, but betrayed his true nature in meetings.

He viewed team meetings as opportunities to advance his personal agenda. He would hold private “strategy sessions” with a small group of people to plan how they would handle agenda items so he could have his way.

Later, as the meeting unfolded, each person in the strategy session would play his or her part, and dissenting opinions would be politely, or not so politely, dismissed.

Team members did not need a sign proclaiming Crane’s aggressiveness, and it was not long before they learned what was happening. The net effect was that Crane divided the team and drove a wedge between those who attended the strategy sessions and the other team members, which reduced the meetings to playlets. Even those in the strategy sessions began privately referring to the meetings as “kabuki” and became as disengaged as their colleagues.

Crane was not capable of allowing himself to trust the opinions of others. He was so afraid of taking that risk, he surrounded himself with those he thought were his supporters in the strategy sessions and bulldozed his way through the meetings. As a result, he missed out on the value of additional information, insights and solutions. Ultimately, he won the battles and lost the team.

Throughout my career I have viewed my job as helping others reach the best decisions about things we all thought were important, not jamming my ideas through them. One way I have accomplished this is to have other people suggest agenda items for team meetings rather than selecting all of the items myself.

This way, I would be sure to include topics in which others were interested, and it would give each of them an opportunity to discuss what they had been doing and their proposals for new initiatives. This placed the emphasis where it belonged – on the team, not me.

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