Demonstrating leadership in meetings

Leaders need to role model (meeting) best practices. Period.

If you have a manager that tolerates unpreparedness and fails to follow up around a meeting, how likely is it that his direct reports will do the same?

The best organizations place a premium on ensuring their leaders have the right training and tools to model meeting culture from the top.

Leaders in meetings

Who are these leaders?

We found one in Jen Sullivan, a Managing Director at Charles Swab and Co.

Jen leads by example. She sets expectations around when people are expected to show up to meetings, whether they can multi-task and ensures everyone that needs to be is engaged. She sees herself as the accountable facilitator, whose role it is to keep things on track.

“My goal is really to create an atmosphere of support where people are comfortable to do their best work” she says.

And leaders like Jen don’t need to be the center of attention. In fact, the opposite is true. Leadership in meetings, where you have a number of competing perspectives that need to be heard, is more about listening than talking. The next time you lead a meeting, ask a participant to critique your balance between listening and talking.

Specific approaches

Before we look at a few specific tips, understand that you’re being watched and studied for what’s acceptable in your organization. It’s one thing to place a set of rules on a conference room door and another to demonstrate them.

Arrive on time and finish 5 minutes early

If you expect your organization to run timely meetings, you’d better be doing so yourself. Always finish 5 minutes early. This ensures participants can make it to their meeting on time. Having said this, ideally you…

Don’t book back-to-back meetings

It’s hard enough to digest the contents of one meeting, let alone do so while rushing to another. Block off areas of your calendar between meetings. Your team will see these and understand its OK to do the same to their own.

Always follow up

Always. Follow. Up. The communications cadence you establish before and after your meetings will get adopted elsewhere in the organization. Speaking of follow up, reviewing action items should be one of the first things you do in every meeting. By doing this you demonstrate a consistency around capturing work items, following up around them and checking them off when they get done.

No agenda – no attenda

Set the expectation that you won’t show up to a meeting without an agenda. Pretty soon, all the meetings that need one will get one. 🙂

Published by

Darin Herle

I call Victoria BC home, am a proud father of 2 and husband to 1. Trackmeet co-founder, Cub Scout leader and baseball fan.

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