The Art of Hosting Meaningful Meetings

Another Unproductive Meeting

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone thanked you at the end of the meeting and told you how glad they were to have been there?

How likely is that to happen?

A recent study found that for the second year in a row, workers reported meetings as “the biggest distraction and waste of time presented by the workplace.”

Did you know that time spent in meetings has skyrocketed? Harvard Business Review reports leaders spend more than two days a week in meetings, an amount that has increased every year since 2008.

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Kevin Eikenberry for his “Remarkable Leadership Online Seminar” about how to host productive meetings. We had a lively conversation which you can listen to . . . → Read More: The Art of Hosting Meaningful Meetings

Prepare for Creative Tension or It May Cloud Your Vision

Creative Tension

The team was excited and energized. They had created a vision that would lead to the breakthrough they had been looking for.

They set goals and identified next steps, roles and communications. They had a great plan and the means to achieve it.

All set, right?


They fell victim to “creative tension.”

Working toward the vision was not as exciting as the process of creating it. At times it was downright mundane.

It was harder than they had anticipated. It required more work, making adjustments to plans, communications and coordination was more difficult.

Some people began to say the vision wasn’t practical. Others decided they really didn’t want the vision after all.

Soon things on the team returned to normal, and life returned to . . . → Read More: Prepare for Creative Tension or It May Cloud Your Vision

The 6 Benchmarks of High Performance Teams


In 1996, 51% of US employees were reported to be members of team. By 2006, it had increased to 84%. As our world becomes more complex, the need for teams will continue to grow. Understanding the characteristics of effective teams gives you a target to shoot for and better prepares you to support your team’s development.

Our research* revealed six Benchmarks of Team Excellence:

1) Alignment: Alignment around a shared vision.

All team members are moving in the same direction toward a shared vision. Individual and team goals are related to the purpose of the team. Team members clearly understand their goals and job responsibilities. There is a strong and clear connection between all activities and the purpose of the team.

2) Team Effectiveness: Effective . . . → Read More: The 6 Benchmarks of High Performance Teams

How to Surface and Align Team Values

Surface and Align Team Values

These questions and guidelines will help you surface the right values for your team. Team values don’t need to be exactly the same as your company values, as long as they are aligned and don’t conflict.

What values are needed to fulfill your team’s purpose?

Values drive purpose. First identify your team’s purpose. Ask, why does your team exist? What is the real service you provide to the company? What business are you really in?

Once you are clear about your team’s purpose, then identify the values needed to fulfill its purpose. Purpose answers why. Values answer how. They provide guidelines for decisions and daily behavior that will help fulfill your purpose.

Your values depend on how you see the purpose of your team. . . . → Read More: How to Surface and Align Team Values

Without Clear Values, You Are Probably Losing Business

Can everyone in your organization explain each of the values and how they personally act on them? They can at companies like Disney, Starbucks, Southwest, McDonalds and Google – all listed in the top 15 of the 2012 most admired companies. . . . → Read More: Without Clear Values, You Are Probably Losing Business

How to Avoid Team Decisions That Plop

When was the last time you were with a group of people that needed to make a decision, where people tossed out ideas and at least one suggestion was totally ignored? If you’re like most of us, it was probably within the last few weeks, whether in a business meeting or a social setting.

Did you realize that the group actually did make a decision? The decision was “no” – it just wasn’t acknowledged. Teams are constantly making decisions, often without first being clear about how the decision will be made.

When teams are not clear on how their decision will be made, they often don’t make the best decisions.

For instance, we often assume that silence means consent—if you don’t say anything you are . . . → Read More: How to Avoid Team Decisions That Plop

Are You a Team in Name Only? Questions to Help You Find Out


Leaders who want to make their team more effective often ask me for help with teambuilding, training in team skills or advice on restructuring. Before signing up to facilitate an activity or training, I ask these questions:

1. “What do you want to accomplish? What will be different as a result?”

I ask to make sure that what they are requesting will get them where they want to go – to avoid delivering the wrong solution.

2. “What is the purpose of your team?”

I ask because I want to know if the leader really has a team. —No point in trying to improve something that doesn’t exist.

A team is a group of people who need each other in order to accomplish their work. . . . → Read More: Are You a Team in Name Only? Questions to Help You Find Out

No More Boring Meetings, Please!

I spent my 50th birthday at the most boring meeting of my life. At one point I had to pinch myself under the table to keep from falling asleep. I’ve attended a lot of meetings that are a waste of time – it’s part of my job. (I help teams improve their performance and often observe to understand their issues before I intervene). However, I must say this was the most boring meeting of my career.

I was observing a four-hour team meeting of the company’s president and his eight direct reports. Sitting around a table, one at a time each person reported what was happening in his or her area. The president asked questions. The others listened until it was their turn. There was . . . → Read More: No More Boring Meetings, Please!

Want To Be a Better Leader? Remove Your Self-Imposed Limitations.

“I’m really tired of all these articles and books telling us what to do to be great leaders. I already know and agree with what they’re saying. I should empower my people, take risks, have a vision, deliver results, be accountable, be service-driven, not ego-driven, etc. etc. etc. I have an MBA and I’ve been to leadership training programs. It’s just not that easy to do.”

Randy had called me because he wanted his team to be great and understood that the effectiveness of his team depended on the effectiveness of his leadership.

I understood Randy’s frustration. Sometimes the issue is that the environment or culture of the company does not support great leadership. But I’ve seen great leadership emerge in some pretty dismal environments. . . . → Read More: Want To Be a Better Leader? Remove Your Self-Imposed Limitations.