Every meeting provides an opportunity to learn important things about the people who attend. Here’s what to watch for:
> Is it planned?
Effective leaders always begin with clearly defined goals and then prepare plans for achieving them. They have the courage to set a direction and then make changes as new information becomes available. They communicate with candor knowing that people perform at their best when they know what is expected. Thus, did the person who called this meeting prepare an agenda? Was the agenda distributed before the meeting? Did the agenda tell you everything that you needed to know to work effectively in the meeting? If so, this serves as a positive indication of effective leadership planning.
> Is it efficient?
A meeting is the culminating step in a larger process. It begins by setting goals and preparing an agenda. Then the chairperson should have contacted key participants to inform them of their roles in the meeting, told everyone how to prepare for the meeting, and alerted people who may be asked to accept responsibility for action items. All of this work before the meeting assures that the meeting will progress smoothly, efficiently, and effectively. So, how is the meeting going? Is there evidence of this attention to detail?
> Is it logical?
Pay attention to what people say during a meeting. Do their ideas contribute toward achieving the goals? if so, this shows that they’re working as part of a team to help find solutions. Do their ideas build upon what others just said? If so, this shows that they’re paying attention to the dialogue. Do their ideas demonstrate originality, creativity, and knowledge? If so, this shows they’re working hard to add value. Effective leaders possess strong analytical thinking skills.
> Is it helpful?
Evaluate the comments and behavior during a meeting. Are the participants working to support each other? Are people contributing to the safe environment that is essential for open creative thinking? Are people adding high-value contributions (instead of stories or jokes that distract everyone)? Note that chronic unproductive behavior betrays either fear, a lack of effective work skills, or misunderstood expectations. People who perform poorly in meetings may need constructive coaching.
> Is it controlled?
Leadership involves more than watching people talk. Thus, observe the dynamics of the meeting process. Is the chairperson leading everybody through methodical steps that take them to a result? Is the meeting being conducted in such a way that the participants feel that it is a fair process? Is the chairperson helping others perform at their best so that the group can produce an outstanding result?
Someone who excels in the above areas should be considered for leadership positions. This explains why most executives consider a person’s ability to lead meetings when selecting future leaders.
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