Lunch MeetingI want to periodically answer questions that I get as I assume if someone asks, others may have a similar question on their mind. A question I received this week is: What does an effective senior leadership meeting look like?

 Servant leaders understand that their primary objective is to steward the purpose, vision, and values of an organization, and help develop the people within their sphere of influence to enable them to achieve their dreams and potential.

 That being said, all meetings should advance those same objectives. But to effectively advance those objectives in a meeting it is important to first have a set of ground rules that have been developed by the team on how they are going to conduct themselves when meeting together.

 Key components of these ground rules would include:

  • Team purpose
  • Team values
  • Team norms
  • Key areas of responsibility of the team
  • How decisions will be made

 Once these ground rules and agreements have been established the cadence of the team’s meetings will be dependent on how often it is necessary to get together to advance the key responsibilities of the team.

 The first key to effective meetings is there should always be an agenda and a purpose. Ideally the purpose will be to advance the team and organization forward and the topics discussed will require the entire team’s participation. This is an important point. Meetings should not simply be a place for people to give reports. Reports can be distributed in advance, and outside of meetings. Meetings are a place to capitalize on the collective knowledge and input of all team members.

 The second key to an effective meeting is full participation by the team. This requires effective questions and active listening by the leader. Allowing everyone time to weigh in on a discussion of possibilities is very important before decisions are made. Team members are at meetings for a reason, you need their input. Effective leaders insure they receive that input.

The third key to effective meetings is to press for closure when decisions need to be made, and insure clarity on accountability moving forward. These decisions and responsibilities should be summarized at the meeting and then documented and distributed for accountability purposes.

The last key to effective meetings is to review performance of the meeting with team members at the close of each meeting. This will insure that progress towards high-performance will be the goal and everyone will be focused on achieving that through their meeting performance. If your meetings are not advancing the purpose, vision, and values of the organization, I would argue that you should not be meeting. 

Next week I will follow up with some examples of agenda items to provide further clarification of effective senior leadership team meetings.

 Mark Deterding

 “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.”  Matthew 18:20