I used to absolutely dread meetings. I am task-oriented and like to check off my various to-do’s throughout the day. Meetings used to find their way onto the to-do list, but only begrudgingly so. I was never fired up to go to meetings, outside of the strategic planning meetings that clarified what mountains we were going to climb.
Can you relate to my dread of meetings? Do you get tired of the monotone reading of the last meeting’s minutes? What about the overview of the action items? Has a part of you ever cynically wondered to yourself why they are even called “action” items given how little “action” is taken upon them? Maybe a better word choice would be “chore list,” because they typically are met with the enthusiasm kids have when their parent asks them to do a “chore.”
The problem is that meetings are where leaders LEAD.
Think about it.
A good meeting can:
Asks penetrating questions
Build people up
Share what’s going on in different parts of the organization
Adapt strategy when things in the environment change (COVID-19!)
And this is just the start.
These are the things that leaders DO.
Obviously, a leader cannot do all of this in the same meeting. Doing so is not only foolish, but it leads to what I refer to as “meeting stew,” or a mixture of multiple meetings in one. Unlike your mom’s stew, however, it never tastes good and leads people to the “meeting hangover” effect. The kind of hangover where they say, “I’ll never do that again…”
But, they will.
And in the context of organizational life they have to because it is part of their job.
That said, it is our job as leaders to make meetings no longer suck.
This may be harsh, but the complaint from others that they’re in “so many meetings” that they can never get anything done, might be a cry for help for us (the leader) to run better meetings.
So, why don’t we?
The point I am driving home in today’s post should be obvious by now. But, let’s be crystal clear. Leaders need to believe that it is their job to run productive meetings. Further, they have to buy-in to the reality that meetings are where they actually get to lead others. It is their playing field. It is the golf course, football field, or pitch (your preference). Play the game. Set direction. LEAD.
I get that not every meeting is run by you, the leader. The point is that when you, the leader, run a meeting, you need to step up and run it with excellence. Your meetings should feel different.
To get you started, here are some of the types of meetings that I run:
Weekly meetings with direct reports (Having fun with these has been mutually beneficial)
Monthly meetings with people I want to build into (“Nextgen” meetings)
Weekly meetings with my two sisters where we support each other, hold each other accountable, and then I lead us in prayer over the business.
Monthly operational meetings that goes over metrics, and gives the team a chance to fire questions at me. I learn a ton in this one!
There are also a bunch of weekly meetings that I also participate in that range from our daily operational meeting to various weekly operational meetings. All of these are also important, so I have to show up with focus and energy.
Regardless of what you think about meetings, to be someone worth following you have to create meetings that inspire, challenge, and set the organizational tone.
Then, others will follow.