Tag Archive: agendas

Is Your Strategizing Akin to Penguin Mating?

©lanau/ Dollar Photo Club

Do your team’s strategy sessions mimic the mating rituals of the Emperor penguin?

In his book Elevate, Rich Horwath parallels strategy meetings and penguin mating rituals. Horwath describes how once annually the penguin will waddle up to 75 miles for a few minutes of mating. Then the female immediately leaves.

In the same vein, many teams don’t talk strategy all year, but once a year, they go offsite and spend two days talking about strategy. Then, like the penguin, we waddle back to the office and resume “normal” life with the “real work. “ Sound like your team?

Strategy discussions need to happen more than annually. In fact, they need to be a part of your leadership team’s meeting routine. As Horwath points out, “Strategy should not be an event. Strategy should be an ongoing conversation.” Some of your strategy discussions will be short. Others long. But in either case, you need to have a systematic way of getting out of the weeds and discussing content that can guide and propel your future, strategically.

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Remedying Bad Meetings

Group of Business People in a Meeting with Speech Bubbles

There’s a lot of leadership talk about minimizing meetings. People “loathe” them and church staffs are not immune to this sentiment. I contend those who loathe them are used to bad meetings, but meetings can be good. If maximized, they can produce far greater results than an email or individual “offline” meetings ever can.

But, it’s got to be a good meeting.

I’m pro-meeting. Well, I’m pro-good meeting. If your staff culture already has a meeting avoidance attitude, you’ll have to earn your right with good meetings. Here are some tips:

1. Use meetings for strategic discussions and email for operational items

Many operational items can be accomplished through email. So use that tool. But my experience says strategic discussions happen best in group settings. Collaborative thinking is a key ingredient to well thought out strategy.

2. Allow for margin between meetings

Some days I stack meeting upon meeting, which is poor time management and it means I’m not at my best for my next meeting. Space between meetings allows you to recalibrate, review your upcoming agenda, record output from previous meeting (a key follow-up for meetings you lead) and even check a few emails to make sure you can stay focused in your next meeting.

3. Respect the beginning time and ending time

I’ve blogged on this more than once. Speed of the leader, speed of the team. You owe it the meeting’s content and the people you’re involving to watch this time issue closely. You not only need to be mindful of promptness yourself, but hold those accountable who don’t respect it.

4. Include prayer

Sometimes prayer at the beginning is what is needed. Other times prayer at the end. But don’t hesitate to schedule prayer time during the meeting. Corporate prayer is a powerful thing. And when you’ve created space for it, it shows how much you value it.

5. Be prepared

When someone comes to a meeting you’re leading, a goal worth having is them thinking, “Wow, they were prepared.” That means documents were ready, you had given thought to the topic, and you have an objective for the meeting. If you don’t prove the meeting is important you, they won’t find it important either.

6. Make sure everyone knows their role

Are they there to receive assignments? Give input? A voter in a consensus decision? I feel much better about attending a meeting when I know what’s expected of me. If I know what’s expected, I can be prepared and also not be let down when I find out they have a role for me in the meeting other than what I was expecting.

7. Know when to cancel a meeting

Many meetings will be on a routine schedule, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be cancelled. When the agenda doesn’t call for an in-person meeting, cancel it.

8. Use the meeting to make your staff better

Consciously plan meeting content to develop those attending. This has been modeled well for me in the past and in many of my meetings, I plan portions of the meeting for teaching opportunities. We’re not doing “trust falls” every meeting, but I hope most of my meetings provide those in attendance to be a little more effective in their roles.

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