To know me is to know that I am no fan of meetings. After all, I started a virtual consulting business so I could hide away in my introvert friendly apartment. Ha!
Well, this month, I spent 3 days with a long-time client and his top leadership team. I’ve been working with his leadership team for quite some time and we get together in person a few times per year.
As mentioned above, I am an introvert. Basically, it means that I recharge by spending time alone and I tend to feel energetically drained when I spend long periods of time with other people. To an introvert, 3 days is quite a long time! And even though, I was definitely drained by the end of the meeting, I had some huge takeaways from our time together.
#1. Choose your one thing.
This is my little trick for making sure I come away from each and every meeting feeling like I accomplished something. When you have more than a couple of people meeting or have loads of agenda items to cover, I have found it helps to think about the one thing that you will feel good about discussing, brainstorming, or problem solving, even if that is the only thing you accomplish.
For example, heading into our time together I knew we were going to be covering a lot of bigger picture topics and probably not going into lots of details about our specific roles and functions on the team. But I LIVE in the details. I almost can’t function without them. I’m in the minority of many leaders in that way lol.
To ensure the meeting was a success for me, I spent some time thinking about the one thing I needed above everything else on the agenda and locked in. When I noticed a break in discussion or when someone asked “hey, does anyone have anything they want to discuss next?” I was ready to chime in. Of course, I had to do that a couple of times, and that’s okay because others jumped in with discussion items that were a higher priority for the overall business goals. The important takeaway here is that you can find a way to make every meeting successful if you make sure and get your one thing into the group discussion.
#2. It’s not about you.
Or him, or her, or them for that matter. If you can share ideas as well as raise objections from a place that is keeping the overall goals of the company in mind, people will hear you and respect your contributions. This doesn’t mean they will necessarily like or even agree but they will notice your desire to move towards the goals and be open to hearing you out.
#3. Sometimes whole-truths are the only truths that matter.
I don’t know about you but I’ve definitely been guilty of telling half-truths aka lying by omission. There’s so many reasons for this. Perhaps you are friends with your team and/or CEO and you don’t want to disappoint or bring up bad news. Or perhaps there’s a tough conversation to be had and you focus more on protecting (yourself and others) than total transparency. It’s important to note that you definitely can be 100% honest and transparent in a loving way.
When you are in a leadership position in any company, on any team, or in any type of situation, it is even more important for you to communicate the total reality of a situation because chances are you have the most understanding of all the pieces involved.
#4. Notice what lights people up.
When you are in person, even though I hate to admit it, is really the best time to see what really gets people excited. You can see their faces, hear the change in tone when they speak, and best of all you can literally see their eyes light up. I got to see this happen with a few people there and it was magical.
Once you know what that thing is for someone, if it’s aligned with company goals, you know how you can best support them…By getting them closer to that thing that lights them up. This is more of a CEO takeaway but as a teammate there may still be some things you can do as well.
#5. The best talks happen when the meeting is over.
Hands down- the best talks happened in the hot tub or over take-out sitting on the couch just lounging together. Sometimes when we are “in” it we don’t process right away and things click for us much later. And sometimes we just feel safer sharing ideas or “riskier” suggestions away from the structure or seriousness of the meeting time.
Whatever the reason, I think it’s important to take note of all the ideas that come flowing when you are just hanging out. Write them down or do a quick voice memo so next time you are within the structure of the meeting you remember to bring them up.
I definitely learned a lot from this last in person meeting. I might actually go so far as to say I even enjoyed it. (But shhh…don’t tell anyone!)
Lots of love,