Leading Effective Meetings - Role of the Leader

Monday 13th June 2016

We’ve all been trapped in a meeting that feels a bit like the movie Groundhog Day. Thesame points are repeated over and over again. The same voices are heard over and over again. There is a lack of control. There is a lack of direction. And in many cases, this is simply because the meeting in question lacks a clear leader.

Without a defined leader, it’s almost impossible to stick to the agenda, capture accurate minutes and more importantly - complete the meeting on time. Therefore, the role of the meeting leader is critical. So often though business meetings lack this function. For some, driven by a desire to be seen as democratic - they opt for the ‘Committee’ approach.

Leader Not Committee

Running a successful meeting requires someone at the helm. They know the course of the meeting, it’s their job to plot that course and make sure they arrive at their destination - without losing anyone overboard. Trying to run a meeting by committee doesn’t work. Too many voices cause confusion and chaos.

Some organisations might use the excuse that having no leader means that everyone is engaged and empowered. Sound nice in theory - but in practice the goals of ‘engaged’ and ‘empowered’ meeting attendees, is more likely if the meeting is effectively lead by an individual. Ideally, someone who is skilled in the art of leading effective meetings.

The Role of the Leader

Create the Agenda

There will likely be a few people who have input into the Agenda for the meeting, but just like the meeting itself, someone needs to take charge. The meeting leader needs to speak to the appropriate stakeholders and create an agenda that is as narrowly focussed as possible; this will usually start with clearly defining the purpose of the meeting.

If the purpose of the meeting is to agree on the design of a new logo - all the agenda items should in some way, contribute to that goal. If it doesn’t - it shouldn’t be on the agenda.

Ensure the Agenda is followed (Scope Creep)

Scope creep is the biggest killer of effective meetings. People get drawn into discussing an issue that, while related to the matter in hand, isn’t taking the team towards its meeting goal. The role of the leader is to make sure the scope of the meeting isn’t extended. If the meeting goes off course, it’s the leaders job to take action to get the meeting back on track.

Ensure Accurate Meeting Minutes are kept

Many meetings fail not during the meeting itself, but immediately after it. People go away from the meeting with their mental version and notes. They take from the meeting what they want.

Accurate and agreed-upon meeting minutes will make sure that everyone is on the same page and critically that the agreed actions are well defined and assigned to the relevant people. Keeping meeting minutes adds a level of accountability that makes sure the best intention of the meetings is turned into real actions that drive the business forward.

Being an effective meeting leader isn’t an easy job, but trust us, someone HAS to do it!

We've recently launched our own online Leading Effective Meetings course Click Here