Three keys to team meetings that inspire action
As a coach and consultant, I’ve worked with some highly successful advisory teams that have exceeded their own expectations for growth. I’ve also coached teams that lack direction and clarity.
Having seen both ends of the spectrum, I’m continuously attempting to determine what it is that separates the two. A recent event brought me closer to finding an answer to that question.
I attended a meeting to present to an advisory team that was holding an offsite meeting to prepare for the second half of the year. At these types of events, the leader of the team typically does most of the talking, but this meeting was notably different: Among all the participants, the leader’s voice was the one I heard the least.
That was my first hint that I was witnessing an inspirational leader. Over the course of the event, I identified three key takeaways that can help other leaders conduct team meetings that truly inspire action.
1. The courageous leader allows others to lead.
Many leaders feel they have to constantly demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and ability to push the team to achieve their goals. What takes courage is allowing yourself to be vulnerable and show your authentic self.
At this recent event, the leader shared stories of his own personal struggles and imperfections to demonstrate to the group that they are on a continuous journey of improvement. And instead of dictating what the team needed to do to be successful, he challenged everyone to define success for themselves by asking: “How do you want to be seen by those you serve?”
By having the courage to share his own vulnerabilities, this leader empowered his team to hold themselves accountable while understanding that it will not be a perfect journey.
Next time you’re preparing for a meeting with your team, ask yourself:
• How can I let go of my need for control?
• How can I display vulnerability with my team?
• How will I continually display courage that will inspire action?
2. Diversity of thought contributes to high performance.
When working with teams, I’m always curious about their common language. How do they interact with each other? What does the leader allow the team to discuss? How have they created an environment where all team members feel they can contribute?
As I mentioned, one of the first things that struck me at this team meeting was that the leader’s voice was heard the least. All too often, leaders feel they must do most of the talking, whether due to a need for control, to reinforce their expertise, or simply because they feel it is their responsibility.
On a team with varying degrees of experience – from industry veterans to some advisors who had been on the team for just a few weeks – everyone at this event had the opportunity to contribute to the discussion. They took turns speaking about their favorite processes, how they communicate, and other focus areas. This was all possible because, rather than positioning himself as the expert dictating the path forward, the leader allowed the members of his team to lead the way.
Empowering a team in this way means creating a safe space – not just at meetings, but in all settings and interactions – where members feel confident that they can let their voice be heard. What emerges from that type of environment is diversity of thought: Instead of just one or even a few “experts,” the team benefits from a diverse range of perspectives and ideas.
At your next team meeting, ask yourself:
• How can I recognize and encourage diversity of thought on my team?
• How can I create an environment where every voice is heard and respected?
• How can I relinquish my control and allow my team members to lead the way?
3. Dynamic subordination allows individuals to lead based on their strengths.
I was recently introduced to the concept of dynamic subordination through Rich Diviney’s book, “The Attributes: 25 Hidden Drivers of Optimal Performance.” He came up with it while serving as a leader with the Navy SEALs and defines the basic principle as: “Whoever is closest to the problem and most capable steps up and takes charge and everyone immediately supports them.”
I witnessed this firsthand at this meeting, without the leader or team even knowing Diviney’s concept. As I mentioned, all team members were able to contribute their thoughts and opinions (read: diversity of thought). At the same time, dynamic subordination played out organically as everyone on the team supported their peers to lead in their individual areas of strength. For some, this was explaining how they had created successful routines and processes; for others, it was describing how they collaborate with colleagues.
This concept can be particularly effective for teams that are just starting to discover how they can work together to achieve goals through mutual accountability.
Putting the concepts into action
As a leader, you can begin to lay the foundation for success by taking responsibility as a leader on the tone you set and the skills you display. I’d encourage you to draw on the three concepts I’ve discussed here by using the following questions to frame your next team meeting:
• What can I do specifically to display courage as a leader with my team?
• How can I give my team permission to express the diversity of thought that will support our path to becoming a high-performing team?
• How can I let go of control as a leader and allow dynamic subordination to take us to new heights?
Should you need assistance implementing the steps outlined in this article, please reach out to your Janus Henderson representative so we can collaborate with your team and help you chart a course to high performance.
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