Treat Every Meeting As A Performance

Most senior leaders have worked in their organizations or professions for long periods of time. They are often very comfortable with the individuals and/or situations they encounter in most meetings. This can lead to a casual mentality towards meetings, treating them more as conversations rather than performances. In reality, every time you enter a meeting as a senior leader you are performing. People will leave with judgments about you as a leader not solely based on the outcome of the meeting, but rather how they experienced you as a leader during the interaction.  If you understand this concept your leadership will be much more impactful.

I advise leaders to set individual leadership goals in advance of every meeting. These goals are not about the business outcome or content delivery of the meeting, as that is implied. Rather, leadership goals are related to how you want to be experienced as a leader in a particular meeting.  These goals will vary based on the situation at hand.  Some examples are:

  • I want to be perceived as assertive
  • I want to be perceived as leading in a calm and rational manner in a crisis situation
  • I want to demonstrate thought leadership
  • I want to play a secondary role and give my people more exposure than me

Once you have established leadership goals for every meeting, keep a performance journal. Grade yourself on a 1-10 scale on how well you achieved your leadership goals for each major meeting and make notes on lessons learned. Reviewing this journal prior to each important meeting (performance!) will allow you to continually elevate your leadership. Another useful technique is to inform a trusted colleague attending the meeting in advance of your leadership goals and get his/her ratings and comments after the meeting. This will allow you to narrow the gap between your self-perception and the perception of others of your leadership.

If you are in a senior leadership position (regardless of your age, experience, etc.) you must realize you are performing from the very moment you walk in the door every day. This does not mean being insincere or gratuitous. It simply means understanding the impact of your behavior given the position you have chosen to accept.

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