How often are you in meetings where:
- The conversation goes into irrelevant details
- Someone is holding forth and it is unclear what is important
- Someone is holding forth and they are definitely off topic
What is happening? Essentially there is a leadership gap.
What does this mean? The leader has lost their way, or group members are anxious of the consequences if they were to redirect the meeting or the meeting chair senses whoever is talking is more ‘senior’ than they are; by age, expertise, experience or perceived hierarchical position.
At this point the purpose of the meeting is lost. Everyone waits for someone else to take action. Of course no one wants to “shame” someone else in a group and by calling attention to what is happening, this is a possibility.
What to do? In a recent senior leadership team meeting I was observing, the discussion was lively, progressive and possibilities for fresh and strong working relationships between two allied divisions were being agreed. The GM of the allied group belatedly joined the meeting and proceeded to focus passionately on context. Group members went silent. They were figuring out how to participate. Frustration and impotence was apparent.
The topic limped to a close with agreement to further discussions. The meeting structure of chair and topic sponsor stopped working. The leadership gap was evident.
How much do you value your time?
Every group member has responsibility to ensure meetings are purposeful and productive. This takes courage. If you value your time, intervening AND refocusing meetings is part of your leadership repertoire.
Diana Jones ©