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#8 - Why did she call a meeting??

I am often puzzled as to why some managers call meetings when they have already decided on the path forward. A good 21st century, participative leader, is supposed to call meetings to discuss problems and solutions.  Right?

Leaders  sometimes call me in to facilitate dialogues with their team when, after some pointed questioning, another motive becomes apparent; the leader is actually hard bent on validating his or her own conclusions. This may not be obvious to a leader at first. After all, he/she must have a vision and demonstrate the ability to consider other viewpoints while also shaping the division’s future direction.

Where it starts to slip is when leaders are not clear about whether they should: make a unilateral decision, make an executive decision after consulting with staff, or have a team conversation leading to a majority decision or consensus.
  • Consultation = I ask you. I consider and decide.
  • Majority =I ask you. The most popular option wins.
  • Consensus: I open the floor for discussion. We dialogue and come to a group decision we all can live with.
Each of these decision modes is effective in different situations. A leader’s lack of clarity however, often leads to structuring a team dialogue that goes nowhere.
As a team leader and as a manager, it may be helpful to keep the following points in mind:
  • Consulting your team before making a final decision will support you in arriving at a better one also increase buy-in, thereby paving the way for a successful implementation.
  • Not every decision requires consultation though and there is nothing wrong in making those by yourself.  Beware of swinging the pendulum the other way, where there is no dialogue at all.
  • When as a leader you have many possible options, a team brainstorm or planning session examining all scenarios is a valid strategy to arrive at a group decision. One caveat: Make sure all the options are ones you can live with!

I suggest a quick mental checklist before calling a meeting:

Have I already made a decision regarding this issue?  YES or NO
IF YES, then I have no real need to call a meeting.              
IF NO, am I open to other ideas to solve this problem?  YES or NO
IF YES, what is the better approach, a brainstorming session or a consultation with the team?
IF NO, it’s a decision I will make by myself or I will remove certain options from the table.
The bottom line for any team is your clarity as leader. Having on a clear course of action for your decision-making goes a long way in building trust and team confidence.

~ Dominique
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