A Leader’s Most Important Job

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have more meetings?

If you’re like most leaders today, your response to that question probably lies somewhere between “No” and “Absolutely not!”

But hear me out…

Recently, a company hired me because their people haven’t been engaged and their strategic plans haven’t been gaining traction.

Year after year, they conduct employee surveys and their employees tell them they don’t communicate well or often enough. When I surveyed their managers and directors, they told me they are already overloaded and have too many meetings. How can they possibly communicate more?

So what should the company do? Find money to pay people more so they are happier being overloaded? Find money to hire more people to take some of the burden of workload?

Four businesspeople at boardroom table

What if, as Patrick Lencioni suggests in The Advantage, the key is simply having more and better meetings? Sounds so mundane! But could that be where a leader does her most important work?

The fact is, you can get a lot done as a leader, but it won’t matter much if others aren’t with you or doing their part. Whether you lead people who sell, market, purchase, strategize, technologize, operate, build, maintain, design or service, your functional expertise is secondary to your ability to communicate, engage and keep people on track with goals and objectives.

Meetings force us to communicate verbally; they’re also a time-out from the doing. It’s in this regular cadence of reoccurring meetings where leaders can do their best work: cascading communication and accountability.

How often do your regular meetings include these four critical components:

1. Reminding. It’s easy to forget what’s most important. Sean Covey blames it on the “whirlwind” of daily demands. He says that we need to constantly re-connect with others to remember what matters most: the vision, the mission, the values, the strategy and the goals.

2. Reporting. Leadership consultants often say the role of a leader – in a business, home or service organization – is to continually and clearly define reality. Most leaders are inclined to fight or flee reality to maintain a false control. Cascading communication and accountability requires a regular honest assessment.

3. Committing. A friend recently admitted he’s so good at reporting the reality of the now that he never gets to what can be done. Making commitments to progress beyond reality creates hope for the future. More importantly, when commitments are declared and shared, they are substantially more likely to happen.

4. Encouraging. We are built for relationship. Leadership is a Team Sport. We can’t go this alone, especially when the gap between our performance and vision widens, and the commitments to bridge the gap get more difficult and expensive. Meetings should be more like a locker room at half-time than a court room amongst a jury of peers.

These kinds of meetings should happen weekly, monthly and quarterly and should include one-on-ones, team meetings and cross-organizational groups.

As leaders, cascading communication and accountability throughout our organizations is job number one. And meetings are the best place to make it happen.

What’s one thing you do or could do in your meetings to ensure a constant blend of reminding, reporting, committing and encouraging?



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  • Jeff Williams
    October 23, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Well said, Matt – this is a balanced view on the role of meetings and how they provide an opportunity to lead. For me, team meetings are launch point to disseminate a very brief agenda before and key outcomes after – I’ll keep in mind the 4 fold purpose when doing so.

    • normanblogger
      October 23, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      Thanks Jeff! Great point to consider meetings as a launch point between an agenda and follow-up outcomes.