Three ways in which Good Leaders manage meetings

A Good Leader has many responsibilities and many meetings. But there are three ways to manage these everyday interactions better as a Good Leader.

Surprising as it may seem, if you want to be considered a Good Leader you have to hold yourself responsible not only for your own time, but for ensuring that you use your team’s time well. And the biggest complaint you’ll hear in any office is how long (and often unnecessary) meetings are.

There are two main kinds of meetings:

  1. Planning / thinking meetings e.g. for Budgeting and Strategy
  2. Review / periodic meetings for an update on milestones on projects, action plans or achievement-oriented tasks

The problem is that both types of meetings can take hours, or be done within minutes. If you spend a substantial part of your day in meetings, you and your entire team will find yourselves leaving at the end of the day with all of the email still unread in the inbox, long lists of missed calls and a lot of frustration. As a result you’ll find yourselves working late, taking work home when it should be family-time, and eventually your health could take a beating.

So here are a few tips I follow for making meetings more efficient and extremely useful:

1. Plan the meeting diligently: Before calling for a meeting think clearly and put down the following:

  • Objective of the meeting,
  • Who all absolutely must attend (execution guys, decision makers, key stakeholders)
  • What are the most important aspects that need discussion,
  • What is the net outcome of the meeting that you as the leader are most keen to see?

It may help to write the minutes of the meeting down before hand so you can plan the course of the conversation and lead it to a successful close.

E-mail these points as part of your meeting invite and point out areas you want anyone to give special focus to so that your attendees can prepare for their part. Put out some pre-reads if required.

2. Be on time & manage time: If you’re late, you won’t be able to get your team to be on time. You’ll end up giving the wrong impression. There’s nothing wrong with being the first one in the room as the boss – it shows that you’re serious about the discussion and agenda. Begin the meeting as you have planned and keep track of time spent on each agenda item.

If you have a democratic, inclusive style, your meetings will take time because you will encourage contribution around the table and listen to each person patiently. This also helps to build your image as a boss because people usually like to express their views on aspects of the business they are keenly working on and appreciate a boss who listens in. It enhances their engagement and the sense of self-worth.

However if there are points that you think are tangential and do not benefit the group as a whole, feel free to request the concerned person to catch up with you after the meeting for a separate discussion. Remember to note this down so you don’t end up forgetting your commitment once the meeting is over.

3. Keep a record of action/decision points: At the start of every meeting, delegate one specific person to note the key action points. It may seem trivial but believe me it is hugely important to be able to quickly review what was agreed for action in the last meeting and assess the progress that has been made. It will not only make you feel more in control of the important aspects of your assignment but also give you and your team a lot of confidence. After the meeting is over it is a good discipline to get the key action/decision points with closure timelines quickly circulated to the participants.

While it’s great to be a Good Leader and a Meeting-Managing-Ninja, don’t forget that face-time (and not the kind on your iphone) with your team members is extremely important. Whatsapp, e-mails, memos, notes and fancy project management software aside, remember that your team is people with lives, smiles, families and stories and it is in your best interest to connect with them as people. Good leaders should be good people to be around too.

Grab a copy of The Two-Minute Revolution and read this article about FlyVision to know more about how leadership is as much about on-ground execution as it is about a 30,000ft strategic view.

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