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Management Tactic #2: Run Your Meetings Like Obama

January 20, 2009

I’m the first to admit that I’m not great at running meetings. I’m supposed to facilitate bi-weekly meetings at my current organization, but all I really do is create the schedule and then let people talk for two hours. I don’t like to cut anyone off or put words in anyone’s mouth, and as a result, the extroverts talk a lot and the introverts say very little, and we end up rushing to finish at the end because we don’t stick to time limits. I take full responsibility (which, by the way, is a future management tactic: Taking Full Responsibility).

Today I read an article in the New York Times about President Obama’s management style. Here’s how our current president, the leader of our land, runs a meeting (and presumably, how you should also run a meeting):
  1. Frame the questions you want answered.
  2. Give each person a chance to speak.
  3. Engage each person and ask questions.
  4. Sum up what you’ve learned and heard.
  5. Indicate the direction you’re leaning.
I would only add that a meeting faciliator should also clarifiy and delegate who will actually be implementing the decisions made during the meeting. Meetings are for brainstorming and making decisions, not for making things happen.
Lesson Learned: When faciliating a meeting, be specific about what you want to get out of the meeting, listen to the people you trust, show them you really did listen by repeating what you heard, and then tell people what you decided. That’s how to run meetings like a leader.

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