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Flavorful Dialogue, Passionate Meetings
by Bettina Ann Grahek

 
   
 
   

Meetings come and go, but the best linger long after the conference room has emptied, the lights are turned off, and the door is shut. They're passionate, heartfelt, and breathe life into the individual members of the group. And the group, through meetings, discerns a way to become one. Becoming one from many entails allowing the group to harness its own personality -- a collective flow of thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, actions, and conversations that blend to generate one initiative, the goal of the group. Great meetings create flavorful and rich dialogue, generate passion for a vision, and foster respect for the well-being of the group members.

Dialogue

As a leader, consider allowing dialogue to occur, and to occur naturally. During meetings ask questions, raise issues, present concerns, and solicit opinions. One-way communication occurs when there is no dialogue, and one-way communication is a presentation, not a meeting. Meetings are about people meeting face to face to accomplish something -- together -- not separate. As leader, make it a point to not share your thoughts so much as to listen to the thoughts of others. Effective leadership hears its followers.

Listen

A great leader listens, and by doing so, fosters open communication among others during meetings. If you control meetings through a single voice -- yours -- and if it's your voice you hear most frequently during meetings, then chances are you aren't listening and others aren't conversing. And if people aren't conversing, you don't have a meeting, you have a presentation. Additionally, if you don't listen, then you won't know what's going on. Effective leadership hears its followers ... and knowledge is power.

Vision

As a leader, be unselfish with your vision. Meetings provide the soil within which the growth of a vision can occur. Great visions build a future for both the organization and the people in it. Visions are rarely harbored by one individual, rather they usually take root and grow through the nurturing of others. Bring life to your vision by allowing others to own it. Generate passion for what the organization can become through the involvement of others by talking, sharing, and working together. Effective leadership has a vision, shares the vision, and allows it to become the property of the organization.

Respect

Respectful feedback from the group leader sets the behavioral tone for meetings. Nice and polite -- it's simple, easy, and very productive. While it should be recognized that the occasional tiff among members of a group is quite normal and sometimes necessary, frequent argumentative or rude behavior during meetings indicates a dysfunction which needs to be addressed before it becomes harmful to the group. Effective leadership recognizes that great organizational visions include a component of social improvement for the betterment of the people.

Time

Time is everything. Meetings often don't allow for adequate mental processing of information, and thinking requires time. Revisiting issues and problems to which clearly formulated solutions have not yet arisen assists in bringing closure to issues. Effective leadership understands the cognitive processes involved in intellectual growth, and seeks to help its followers think, learn, and problem solve.

Control

Order is the correct word here, not control. Order provides structure, and structure provides a degree of predictability, stability, and safety. Order also helps establish care and concern for the well-being of others. Develop meeting rituals, set time limits for discussions, keep notes, and work to move the meeting forward. Set aside time at the end of each meeting to recap important ideas and briefly discuss agenda items for future meetings. The best of meetings will want to move well beyond the time initially established, but order is of importance, as well as respectful for the personal and working lives of the individual group members. Start on time, follow an agenda, and end on time. Effective leadership recognizes order as a structure within which people can function safely and thrive professionally.

Great meetings and being a great leader isn't about self, but about others -- get the ego out of the way. When meetings are unproductive, loathed, and resented it's a leadership issue. When visions and missions aren't carried out, it's a leadership issue. Find the personality of each team and promote its growth as if it were a living, breathing, unique entity. Create flavorful dialogue, generate passion, and foster respect through organizational team meetings, and gather to become one.


       
   
 
       
   

The Author

 

Bettina Ann Grahek is an educational administrator with a passion for teaching and leading new thinking, new beliefs, and new practices for leadership in education.

 
       
   
 
       
   
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Copyright 2002 by Bettina Ann Grahek. All rights reserved.

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