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Great Leaders Talk Last

Have you ever wondered why your team doesn’t seem to participate in any discussions at meetings? Or can you cut the air with a knife at one of your team sessions? Perhaps you are the reason there is so little collaboration and contribution.

Managers or owners who call a meeting, but then proceed to spout the answers aren’t looking for input at all. They just need an audience. That’s not leadership. It’s not even effective management.

Good leaders, who truly inspire their teams, hold meetings much differently. Effective leadership allows everyone in the room to speak if the people so choose. Plus, the comments that are shared are received with an open mind and genuine empathy.

The good process plays out something like this.

BOSS – Good morning everyone. Thank you for coming. There is a topic/issue we have here (fill in the details). I’d like to hear what you think we should be doing.

Then open the floor for discussion.

BOSS – These are some great ideas. This has been very helpful. If we connect all of this, it sounds like we are saying …… I think we can use this to go this way…..

The Wrong Way

BOSS – Good morning everyone. Thank you for coming. There is a topic/issue we have here (fill in the details). Here’s what I’ve been thinking. Blah blah blah… How does that sound?

SILENCE – CRICKETS – MORE SILENCE

BOSS – Ok great, then that’s what we’ll do.

There is such a major difference in conducting your meetings the right way first. When you open with your official position and all your stated opinions before anyone in the room can contribute, you stifle any other ideas.

After all, who’s going to contradict the boss? By holding your comments to the last, you can get maximum output from the team. Of course, you have to be able to genuinely receive the input without shooting it down when you do speak. Granted not all ideas may be great ones, but even the less than acceptable suggestions from the team can be handled with grace and dignity.

Being able to hold off is a skill that takes some effort to develop. Young managers think they must know all the answers so they are quick to commandeer the meeting, spreading their pearls of wisdom along the way.

Even seasoned managers can be guilty of killing team spirit by shooting at ideas too soon, or never even allowing them to see the light of day.

If your meetings are not producing the level of collaboration you might want, try this simple technique.

1. State the problem or issue you want to discuss.

2. Sit back and facilitate the discussion rather than command the talk.

3. Watch for people’s reactions to things being said. Encourage comments from those who seem to be holding back.

4. Once the discussion seems to have exhausted itself, then, and only then, state your recap of what you have heard. Yes, you can still assert your views. But you can do so in a constructive way, helping the team to feel their voice was heard and is valued.

Try this approach a few times. I’ll bet your outcome will be far more productive. And remember, your actions can talk so loud, people won’t hear what you are saying. That statement cuts both ways.

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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