One of the biggest pitfalls board chairs face during a meeting is the temptation to talk. To be fair, some chairs talk a lot because they feel that is what is expected of them. Whether real or perceived, chairs may feel pressure to offer their opinions early and often. After all, they were chosen to lead and leaders need to be front and centre steering the ship, right? Well, maybe not.
In “Meetings Suck: Turning One of the Most Loathed Elements of Business into One of the Most Valuable”, Cameron Herold presents a compelling case for organizational leaders to take a back seat when it comes to discussing issues at meetings. Here’s why.
Leaders who have an expressive and dominant personality tend to overshadow those with personalities that are analytical or amiable. Too often he says, leaders speak first, and in the process, undermine opportunities for future leaders to build up confidence in sharing their ideas.
Herold recommends a reverse pecking order of speaking. Call first on the newest people around the table before moving on to the experienced. When good ideas evolve out of this process, the value of teamwork and unity is advanced.
Herold confesses that when he spoke less in meetings, he often heard his ideas pitched by others. That made him realize that just because some are less vocal doesn’t mean they are void of ideas. When a suggested plan of action is offered by a less vocal person and is embraced and accepted by others, it builds their confidence to speak up more.
Meetings, according to Herold, lose all value when the chair runs them as a power trip. This doesn’t mean that chairs should never speak. Rather, they should hold back until everyone else has had a chance.
Next time you find yourself chairing a meeting, be conscious of how much you are talking. Remember, a good chair strives to be more like the speaker of the house who moderates debate than the prime minister who is there to champion a cause.