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Leadership Etiquette in Meetings
Information provided from the District President Notebooks
- Think about the group dynamics we discussed earlier; as a leader you need to recognize the various roles group members are taking, and think about the kind of roles you are taking.
- Work for a balance of being businesslike and allowing people to interact in casual/fun ways. If you, as a leader, are perceived as too brisk and businesslike and task-oriented by others, you may have difficulty being accepted as a group member as well as a leader. Remember, what's important in a group setting is not what you think you are doing, but how others perceive and interpret what you are doing.
- As a leader, you will be responsible for limiting discussions and setting time parameters for various activities. When deciding how much time to spend on a certain issue, think first about how complex the task should be, and how important it is to the group. Obviously, more important and complicated tasks should be given more time than less important and more clear-cut tasks. A significant part of your role as a leader is clarifying for others where the group is in terms of solving a problem or working through an issue. Leaders need to be "reality testers", and bring up points such as "Are we spending too much time setting this schedule?" "This is a major decision; perhaps we should spend more time thinking about it before we reach a consensus," and "Is the color of the poster really that important?" When challenging the importance of a point or argument, think about respecting the person who is presenting the point; while their idea may not be worthwhile, they certainly are worthwhile. Think back to "criticize the behavior, not the person." Also, try to think about the group's needs above your own needs in terms of running the meeting. That is, if you are getting bored but the group seems to be accomplishing something by further discussion, it's best to let it continue until it seems the group has reached the point of diminishing returns. Discuss this concept.
- Keep in mind that there are different types of meetings that call for different styles of leadership. Meetings held just so members of a group can get together and "catch up" with each other can be much less formal and task-oriented than meetings called to handle a specific problem.
- Interrupting: When you as a leader believe it's necessary to interrupt someone, think about timing as well as that person's feelings. It usually makes more sense to interrupt when a sentence is finished than in mid-word. Try to be considerate of that person's feelings; acknowledge that you are interrupting and explain the reason why if possible. It's best to interrupt only when it will serve some purpose useful to the group and its tasks. Do not interrupt just to point out a small error in grammar, syntax, etc., or to bring up a tangential point.
- A good leader is not a monopolize in meetings; he or she is rather an effective facilitator who allows others to participate as much as possible. This can be partially accomplished by encouraging others to offer input/ideas and for supporting them when they do, even if their ideas are not seen as excellent by the; "That doesn't look like a realistic option right now, Jack, but I appreciate your suggesting it." Related to this is the leader being supportive in discussing "minority" opinions or views; standing up for a single dissenting voice so that it can be heard fairly.
- In leading meetings, it's important to be consistent in enforcing procedures, limiting discussions, etc., or to be able to explain why exceptions are being made. Always think about the reasons for what you are doing; an effective leader is not arbitrary or capricious unless really necessary. For example, it might be OK to be arbitrary about setting a deadline for a project if the group cannot come to a consensus on it.
- Recognize and utilize other formal and informal leaders in the group. Respect their leadership and work with them rather than against them. In most cases it's more important that the group function effectively than that you get to always be in charge. Watch out for "contrary" leaders; people who possess some leadership abilities and seem to be using these against the better interests of the group.
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