Leadership meetings are usually viewed as a necessary evil. Often long and boring, they can feel like a waste of time. Yet well designed leadership meetings can not only be engaging and purposeful, they can strengthen team bonds and drive your team powerfully toward your goals. Here are some tips we use at MOPS International to help our group Leaders design and run an effective and exciting MOPS Leadership Team meeting. You can use the same principles with your team.
Limit how long it will be. A wise leader once said, “The brain will absorb only what the butt can endure.” Have a set end time and stick to it. Ending on time not only sends the message to your team that you understand they have other things in life to do, but it forces everyone to stay on task and focus on what topics are most important to talk about.
Start with the vision. Start all of your leadership team meetings by reading your vision statement. For easy reference, print it at the top of the meeting agenda handout. By starting this way, it reminds us why we are serving in the first place and gives us a fixed goal to bounce all our ideas against. If a proposed plan supports the overall vision, we move forward. If not, we can tweak it or drop it entirely, confident that we are focused on supporting the vision.
Don’t discuss details. Leadership meetings are best used as a time of big picture thinking. Details are often best discussed by smaller, focused teams at a different time or in a different venue. For example, don’t waste team time talking about craft plans or who will buy the goldfish crackers. Those teams can hash out the details of their plans later, in whatever manner they want. Trust your teammates to make decisions in their area of responsibility without the approval of the entire team.
Let everyone give an update. It’s important that everyone at the table has an opportunity to speak, even if they choose not to. That makes everyone feel heard and appreciated. A quick round of big picture updates helps everyone on the team hear what others are doing and learn how they can best support their teammates. This also helps the team bond, learning how each role supports the vision in a different, but equally important way.
Set aside half your meeting time for leadership development. This is where leadership meetings get exciting. In what area does your team want to grow? What new skills do you want to acquire? How can you understand each other better and bond tighter as a team? There is no shortage of leadership development resources you can use to build stronger leadership skills on your team. At the end of their time serving, everyone on your team should feel they are a better, more skilled leader than when they started. This is where that leadership development training happens.
When in doubt, remember that when you have a choice between caring for your people and anything else, choose your people. That means designing leadership meetings where everyone feels valued and connected. When we connect with others, we learn what matters to them and are able to help them accomplish their goals, while at the same time accomplishing the goals of our team as a whole.
Stacey Morgan has been a MOPS Member for 14 years, and is currently the Area Coach for South Texas. She is married to a NASA astronaut and together they have four children.