You Can Conduct Valuable Team Meetings

A Few Easy Concepts

You Can Conduct Valuable Team Meetings

Almost 2 weeks ago, I discussed team briefings and the importance of communications in the process. But I really didn’t take the time to address the mechanics of conducting a valuable team briefing. So, today, let’s focus on that.

Create the Environment

As the leader, you must establish the proper environment. Think about the environment you want to create for these briefings. It doesn’t necessarily be a super-formal environment. But, it just needs to be a positive environment. People must understand what to expect when they attend one of your team briefings. Here are a few things that make for a good environment:

  • Ensure that you understand what is going on in the organization and that you have been properly briefed yourself. Make sure your team leaders know what’s happening at various levels, and with various other teams, throughout the organization.
  • Provide training or coaching on how to conduct effective team briefings.
  • Recognize and reward supervisors and managers for conducting effective team briefings.
  • Brevity is the soul of wit. If you can’t say it in 15 to 30 minutes, then a team briefing is not the right vehicle for a more complex message.

Have a Structure and a Process

As the leader, you must commit to a structure and a process. You have invited the team and they are gathered for information sharing.

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The Value of Team Briefings

And a little bit about communication

The Value of Team Briefings

We have many communication options these days – phone calls, faxes, emails, text messages, and so on. You can even communicate with just a single emoji. Who hasn’t sent a message to someone that was just a single emoji? (And, I bet it was probably the little “poop” emoji. wasn’t it?) Sometimes it seems as though traditional, face-to-face meetings are disappearing. In fact, it looks like the more options for communicating that we have available, the less real communication occurs.

The Value of a Good Team Briefing

I often say, “I am a B.A. guy in a B.S. world.” By that, I mean that I am probably one of the only individuals at my place of employment without a Bachelor of Science degree. Most are engineers. My degree is a lowly Bachelor of Arts degree. And it is in Mass Communications. And, finally, it is from a fairly unknown school. However, I have leveraged that little degree fully throughout my career. And one of the things that I recall about the communication process is that it has 3 parts and not just 2. We often think of the “sender” and the “receiver”. But we often forget the all important “feedback”. And unfortunately, feedback is extremely hard to discern outside of face to face communication. And even then it is hard to discern its real meaning.

So, for today, let’s look at Team Briefings and what role we have as leaders in that setting. And let’s consider the characteristics and benefits of well-run team briefings.

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10 Tips to Boost Your Confidence

Are You Feeling Confident?

10 Tips to Boost Your Confidence

Leadership and confidence usually go hand in hand. But sometimes you feel awkward or even silly. You may feel silly and awkward inside, but you can learn to overcome those feelings. The inside feelings don’t necessarily have to show up on the outside. You can develop the ability to both look and feel confident even though you feel a little silly from time to time.

Researchers tell us that the number one fear of most people is the fear of public speaking or some other public exposure. Now, in full disclosure, I will admit that I have never suffered from that fear. I was a “theater guy”. I loved being on stage. Many years ago my wife and I owned our own business where I was a paid professional public speaker. I have made a living standing and talking in front of a crowd. It doesn’t scare me – it energizes me. But I realize that I am the oddball in this regard. (Maybe some other regards as well . . .)

10 Tips for Improving Your Confidence

Here are 10 tips and suggestions to boost your confidence and to help you get over the fear of looking silly and also help you gain confidence and portray confidence to those around you.

Stand Up Straight and Tall — It is easier to exude confidence when you have a confident posture. No matter how awkward or embarrassing the situation you may be in, standing tall through it all will make people respect you for your ability to keep walking through the fire of adversity and hold your head high, no matter how scared you may feel inside. Remember what mom always said – – “Don’t slouch.”

Apologize, But Only Once — Being over-apologetic about a little mess-up just gets irritating after a while. Simply acknowledge your mistake, apologize genuinely, and continue on with whatever you were doing. This is a trait that I have seen with many “sales type” individuals. They seem to think that by apologizing they will be perceived as being more open, likable, trustworthy, or vulnerable. This is not the case. Instead, they just get annoying after a while.

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The Value of a Translator

Could you use a little help with your message?

The Value of a Translator

I had an incredible opportunity yesterday to speak on a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. I am currently on a business trip to Bangalore, India and I was given the opportunity to speak on a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. — Legacy Leadership.

There was only one problem. I don’t speak Kannada. There are more than 51 million individuals from the state of Karnataka who do speak it natively and I was asked to speak at a place where the entire day’s activities would be among a group of people with whom there were precious few who had even a limited understanding of English. Most had no understanding at all. That is a tall order for one American who struggles himself from time to time with the English language!

Help! I need a Translator

Fortunately, my host was completely aware of my linguistic shortcomings. And he provided a person who spoke English fluently but was a native Kannadigaru. And he would be my translator and interpreter.

One of the things that became very clear to me very early on in the development of my message was that I had to be crystal clear in my message and concise and succinct in developing any supporting information.

An unexpected problem

I was given twenty minutes. No problem. I can deliver a wealth of information in 20 minutes. Oh, wait a minute.

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Lincoln on Leadership

The original "Great Communicator?"

Lincoln on Leadership

We are in the midst of a heated and contentious political season. During this time every four years there seems to be renewed interest in great former presidents such as Abraham Lincoln. So, what is the deal with Lincoln? Was he really the greatest president of all me?

Donald T. Phillips wrote a book in 1993 entitled, Lincoln on Leadership. The subtitle was Executive Strategies for Tough Times. In that book, he provides significant insight into leadership principles that Lincoln exhibited and that he also cultivated in those around him. Phillips points out many unique qualities of Lincoln. He also focuses on what he calls The Lincoln Principles. He goes on to develop Lincoln’s Principles of People, Principles of Character, Principles of Endeavor, and Principles of Communication. I don’t have me to develop each of these. But, I recommend the book if you are interested in pursuing this line of thought on a political figure that has become a pop culture figure again of late.

More than meets the eye

One characteristic that caught my eye was the fact that Lincoln is the only U.S. president to hold a U.S. Patent. Lincoln received a patent for a method of making a certain kind of boat more buoyant. Not all that remarkable in and of itself. But it demonstrates that Lincoln was creative. He was not just a “community organizer”. He was actually a contributor to the business community and he understood that government is not the solution.

He was not only creative; he was also a great developer of leadership intelligence and information from those around him. Lincoln was keenly aware that people (his cabinet and his military leaders) were the major source of information and that in order for him to be a great leader he had to stay close to them. But being close to them was not enough. He needed the relationship to be real and intimate. He built those relationships by holding meetings that were more informal with these people rather than structured and formal meetings.

What is the leadership principle here?

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Listening To An Old Soundtrack

What “tune” is stuck in your head?

Listening to An Old Soundtrack

Every one of us has a soundtrack playing inside our head. It is a recording of the things that people have said to us over the years. For many of us, we remember what was said to us and just how it made us feel at the time. We remember it like it was yesterday. We seem to remember those events even though we long to forget them.

Many things that were said to us make us sad. Some of them make us mad. Many of them were hurtful at the time.

What does this have to do with leadership?

As a leader, it is important to remember the role that we play in our follower’s lives. In many teams or project situations, we find that we spend much more time with our workmates than we do with our families.

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Leading Meetings That People Enjoy

Leading Meetings

Think back to the last business meeting you had. Was it fun? I know you just laughed a little. Would you describe that meeting as a highlight of your week? (Stop laughing at me.) Or do you think that the meeting made a definitive difference in the work you do? (Alright, that’s enough, I am beginning to get a complex.) I know you are beginning to think I am a bit crazy. I know, just hear me out.

One of the most frustrating things in work can be the meetings that you have to go to. But these can also be fun and inspiring when certain things occur. Even so, there are probably as many jokes about terrible meetings as there are about terrible lawyers and so I want to offer a few ideas on how to lead a better meeting.

You and I both have probably left meetings where we felt that it was completely pointless for us to ever attend again. You probably have thought to yourself: “If I put a cardboard cutout of myself in my seat, the chairman won’t even notice”. In short, I can’t stand going to meetings where my presence, my wisdom and my input is not valued or sought out. If I am going to show up, I don’t want just a lecture, and I don’t want unilateral dispensing of information, ideas and philosophy. Instead, I have this idea that if I am going to come to a meeting it is because I have something to offer. I hope that is why you come as well.

So I want to give three parts to this post. First I want to share about meetings I hate, second I want to share ways to motivate, inspire and challenge during our meetings and lastly I want to share about leading with questions.

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Buzzword Bingo and Real Leadership

Buzzword Bingo

How many times have you been tempted to play “Buzzword Bingo” in a business meeting?

What?  You don’t know how to play Buzzword Bingo?  Well, let me explain it quickly.

Buzzword Bingo, also known as something a little more “earthy”, is a bingo-style game where participants prepare bingo cards with certain buzzwords that they are likely to hear at a meeting or event.  They mark them off their game card when they are uttered during an event, such as a meeting or speech. The goal of the game is to mark off a predetermined number of words in a row and then yell “Bingo!” It is generally played in situations where audience members feel that the speaker, in an effort to mask a lack of actual knowledge, is relying too heavily on buzzwords rather than providing relevant details.

An important element of the game is having the courage to actually yell “Bingo!” once you have collected enough marks on your card. In order to avoid the repercussions that could result from doing that in a public setting, participants may resort to looking at one another and silently mouthing the word “Bingo”. An alternate variation requires the person who has achieved bingo to raise his or her hand and use the word “Bingo” within the context of a comment or question.

Consider if you would a couple of thoughts regarding the differences between buzzwords and real leadership.

Buzzwords are a poor substitute for the real content.  In fact, that is the key reason that some leaders tend to rely on buzzwords so much.  They really don’t have anything of real substance to offer.

Real leadership, on the other hand, offers a vocabulary of meaningful dialog.  A leader does not have to have the vocabulary of a Mensa member.  But real leaders use words of real substance and they encourage meaningful words of dialog in return.

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The Business of Ethics

MM - Ethics

I am sure there has been much written about ethics in leadership but I wanted to share some insights recently revealed to me.

I had a visit with some dear friends who have been in leadership positions and one is currently writing a book on “ethics in the university”. He is a retired professor and is a dear friend so, jokingly, I asked him if he had discovered any, to which there was a resounding NO.

The chats usually go with the state of our country then circles around to business models and ethics.

First, I’m not sure why we call it “business ethics”.

Is the place we learn business ethics, in business, or is it too late then?  Our conversation had me asking that question, “Where do we learn” ethics?

Well, I got the standard business answer we all should expect and the one you are thinking. We teach them in college and have training classes and seminars. Which isn’t bad, I might add!

As you may guess at this point in the conversation, I still had plenty of questions. So, one immediate question was; at what age do we start to teach ethics?

Where and when do “we” learn ethics?

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Leaders Encourage Vigorous Debate

 

Vigorous Debate - 1Great leaders know how to focus on the positive, helpful, edifying and uplifting communication while managing the negative, destructive, decisive and demeaning communication in meetings.

Consider this advice from a seasoned old-timer to a young leader who was still early in his leadership career. It happens to be from the New Testament of the Bible.

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.” 

Titus 3:9-10

Have you ever been in a meeting that digressed and evolved into almost a free-for-all? As a contrast, have you ever been in a team meeting where the leader encouraged good debates and successfully squashed useless ones?

Such well-managed teams tend to finish their meetings with good plans and they do it on time. The participants feel productive and actually like getting together because everyone feels like they were a part of something productive.

But, back to my brief Biblical text. The Apostle Paul (the old-timer) exhorted a pastor (young leader) named Titus to refrain from arguing about peripheral subjects that divided his followers.  And I think that advice is relevant to leadership principles today.

There is a branch of modern communication theory that seems to have grown out of the apostle Paul’s philosophy. In 1968, Sir Charles Geoffrey Vickers, an English lawyer, administrator, writer, and pioneering systems scientist introduced the concept of “appreciative systems”, which later became Appreciative Inquiry (AI). It was really further developed nearly 20 years later at Case Western Reserve University’s department of Organizational Behavior. It started there with an article in 1987 by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva. They felt that the overuse of “problem solving” as a model often held back analysis and understanding, focusing on problems and limiting discussion of new organizational models. At its core, AI is positive debate that explores what an organization does well and how it can build on its strengths.

Vigorous Debate - 3As leaders it’s sometimes difficult to limit discussion and keep debates from getting out of control.

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