Thursday, September 6, 2012

Leadership: before or during?

Here's a precept of leadership that I have practiced and encouraged others to do the same.  If you, dear reader, have commentary on it, I'd love to hear it.

The maxim:  you don't do leadership in the meeting, you do leadership before the meeting.

For me, this means...

1.  Knowing what the options (or at least most of them) are before you get there and articulating what is good and bad about each.  I like to do this in a pre-meeting email.

2.  Having a A, B, and C choice for the options.  If the whole team is in agreement, then bingo.  If not, the meeting is productive in hashing it out.  And because I have had conversations prior to the meeting, I know more or less where each person stands.

Some accuse this kind of process as manipulation of the meeting.  I don't think that's it at all.  This isn't a creative meeting where we're dreaming big or just dreaming.  Those are different meetings.  This is a decision-making meeting.  The point is to make a good decision, in my case, for the sake of the church.

This also prevents a few things...

1.  People not really understanding the question on the table or the options to answer that question.  Confusion in a meeting like that makes for frustration, inefficiency, and poor decisions.

2.  People growing weary over fact-finding and "what if"-ing.  The best case is when they already know the facts and know the what ifs.  Yes, there could be something you miss.  There could be another option on the table that you haven't considered and need to.  But that's rarer than wearing people out while exploring the options.

3.  Preventing agenda-drift by sticking to the choice at hand and the implications thereof.  A clearly defined question in a pre-meeting email is handy here.

So leaders, lead before the meeting.  You'll find it a lot easier than trying to lead in it.

But that's just me thinking thoughts...

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