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Running a Leadership Team Meeting That Works

Running a leadership team meeting effectively is crucial to keep you and your team focused.

Let’s face it, though, most leadership team meetings suck. They devolve into a series of status updates, and the team becomes more focused on checking their email than listening, much less engaging. So how do you bring value to your leadership team sessions?  First, you need to understand why they matter, then run them effectively, and finally have a plan for what happens after you walk out of the room (or the Zoom meeting).

Running a Leadership Team Meeting of Value

The leadership team meeting is about keeping the business moving forward and in alignment. Small companies become successful through the drive of the owner. They make all the decisions, drive the business forward, and have the entire pulse of the organization. At some point, though, the company gets too big to be managed that way. The owner finds they need a team of leaders around them to move the organization forward effectively. That is where the risk creeps into the equation.

The risk lies in how well the business owner can ensure that their vision, strategies, and priorities for the organization are communicated and executed through the leadership team. It is not about micromanaging the organization; it is about informing and reinforcing a framework for decision-making aligned with where the owner wants the organization to go. The leadership team meeting is how the business owner supports that framework and gets the necessary information to make adjustments. If the leadership team isn’t meeting regularly and communicating openly, the message can be lost. And that’s where momentum slows, and confusion begins.

Keep Your Leadership Team Meeting Focused

Now that you are planning for leadership team meetings, it’s time to think about running them. I love to talk about being intentional, and your sessions need to be just that. The leadership team meeting aims to get crucial information and updates on the table, discuss them, and make decisions as necessary.

The first piece of a successful leadership team meeting is a plan. Each team member should let the leader know what topics they need to discuss and what input or decisions they need help with. The first item on that agenda is to focus the team on the business’s long-term vision and annual goals. It may sound silly, but it puts the entire meeting in context. And then move to and stick with the plan. Each agenda item should be time-bound. If you can’t resolve it, create a separate time to discuss it.

The second piece of running a successful team meeting is to have a set of ground rules for the meeting. It’s all about setting timeliness, focus, and issue resolution expectations. Why do these even matter? They matter because, at some point, the meeting will start to slide. If half your team is checking email, then they are not present in the meeting. I know some leaders who insist no computers or devices are in use at the leadership team meeting. If key people are late to the meeting, you find yourself revisiting topics and wasting the time of those who were prompt. And how will you handle disagreements and differences of opinion? It helps to know that in advance.

Develop your leadership team meeting rules as a team, discuss them, and ensure everyone on the team has a voice. As your business grows, so should your rules.

How You End the Leadership Team Meeting Matters

We’ve discussed why the meeting is essential and the best way for you to run the meeting. Why does it matter how you end the session? As it turns out, it matters quite a lot.

The first thing to do is to make sure that you have a meeting rule around how you come to and communicate decisions. It’s a rare organization where you have 100% agreement on every decision so a meeting rule that states “80% agreement is 100% commitment” should be considered. What does that mean? It means you should strive to get 80% consensus on every decision. More importantly, the decision requires a 100% commitment from the team. Whether they agree with the decision or not, every member of the team will be on board with it.

The second thing to do is to document the outcomes, follow-up, and commitments from the meeting. Have someone in the room take notes and document the decisions. Why? It ensures there is no misinterpretation of a discussion or decision. And it provides a reference to go back to if you have to revisit the decision.

Finally, there should be an agreement on how you will communicate decisions to the rest of the organization. Will each member of the leadership team share it with their respective team? Or will there be a broad, written communication to the team? What are the major talking points that you will have? Remember, every decision in the leadership team meeting requires 100% commitment of the attendees, and you will want to communicate that effectively.

Many people roll their eyes about meetings, but well-run meetings are a critical value add to the organization. The leadership team meeting keeps the organization focused and aligned.

Do your leadership team meetings suck? Set up a free Leadership Assessment call with me and we can build a path forward for you.