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Why You Should Not Facilitate Your Annual Meeting?

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Oct 20, 2014

Considering that you’re the leader of your business it naturally makes sense that you should plan and command the leadership role in your annual planning and strategy session.

Yet as previously discussed in Leadership Dominance there are several reasons why you should consider turning this important role over to someone else. 

Let’s start with one possibly overlooked part of your role as facilitator.   meeting facilitation resized 600Depending on your personality you may focus too much on organizing and moving the meeting agenda along to ensure everything gets completed, or your influence may so dominate the meeting that many valuable ideas from your team fail to be discussed with the appropriate level and value they might contribute.

On the one hand, your planning and leading can mean your input and knowledge fails to be communicated, and on the other your input and knowledge so dominates the meeting that others valuable ideas are ignored or diminished.

The Collective Intelligence of your team is diminished either way.  Either by excluding your input or having it dominate so much that others fail to contribute their fruitful input.

Let’s consider the later first in more detail.  Patrick Thean, author of Execution Without the Drama, a long time Gazelles Coach has observed leaders in many organizations and estimates that when the CEO is the facilitator contribution from your team is reduced by 40%.  Furthermore he’s found that if you have the facilitator pen in your hand it reduces group effectiveness & your team’s IQ by another 20%.

Let me repeat those numbers so they sink in.  Do you feel your team is a group of A players that have valuable contributions that can help lead and provide more accountability for achieving your objectives in 2015? 

If so why would you risk diminishing your own contribution and that of your team by as much as 40%?  Let’s suppose you’re an experienced facilitator, have confidence in your ability to both keep the meeting moving and refrain from diminishing your teams input.   facilitator cartoondelalbrightcom resized 600Why would choose to diminish your teams effectiveness and IQ by even 20% by holding the pen in hand to collect all the information and lead the discussions?

Why are your teams contributions diminished?   Think back when you were in their position.  Did you respect the opinion of your boss?  If you didn’t I’m betting you didn’t work there for long.  Your team has a “respected opinion” of what you say.  Your comments, mannerisms, body language, even your unstated feelings impact and influence your team.  Your contributions can enhance or diminish the collective intelligence of the team.  It either magnifies or diminishes their opinions and input. 

When I facilitate a meeting my encouragement to the leaders is to go last in any discussion.  Refuse to jump in and offer your opinion until everyone else has contributed, unless you wish to curtail the discussion for some valid reason.   Your input will frequently diminish the ideas or spawn quick agreement since most of your team will likely agree and wish to advance their impression of your view on them.  If you truly desire to have input from your entire team, no matter their ideas or point of view, refrain from commenting until the end and provide a facilitator to ensure all ideas are encompassed.

By receiving everyone’s input you avoid tainting the responses with the leaders input. 

In this position the leader is in a much better position to listen keenly to what their team is offering. 

In addition, when you as the leader occupy the facilitator’s role, especially with pen in hand, your main objective should be to keep the meeting going and achieving outcomes.  Observing and listening are achieved at a much higher level if that's all the leader needs to concentrate on.  It also doesn’t prevent the leader from taking on the leadership role.

Given everything discussed here there is still one requirement that a leader should never abdicate.  Any meeting, whether it be annual, quarterly, weekly or even a daily huddle can and will fail if the leader doesn’t use his authority when hard decisions on priorities, accountabilities and measurement is required.   I’ve been in a few annual planning and strategy sessions where the leader defers all decision-making to the democracy of the group.  That’s a recipe for failure.

As a leader this is a key moment where your leadership dominance and decisiveness is an absolute requirement.  When the discussion or cloud of objectivity becomes fuzzy due to the difficulty of the challenge, indecisiveness of the group, or the headstrong attitudes of opposing sides, this is when the assertiveness, will power, and firmness of your leadership is demanded.

Use your leadership when the occasion requires it.  It’s been my observation that the leader shouldn’t be in the facilitator’s role because it not only inhibits the contributions your team makes, it shrinks your ability to contribute and discern the value of your team’s relevant ideas.

Would you like to learn more how to conduct and what to include in your Annual and Quarterly planning meetings?   14505 GI 2014FallMRHMasthead resized 600Then plan to attend our Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Four Decision Workshop.  Download the Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Four Decision Workshop flyerRegister to attend this event November 12th in Cedar Rapids.

We’ll explore what we will cover, providing an agenda or the daylong event plus what outcomes you will receive by attending next blog. 

Topics: Employee Feedback, employee performance, Annual Plan, leadership, Four Decisions, Leadership Team

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Doug Wick, President

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

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