Great Leaders Hold Spirited Meetings

So there I am in a meeting with Dave and his team.   Dave invited me to attend the meeting because, although he had scored exceptionally well on the employee survey, there was one aspect of his style that people found difficult to understand.  He asked me to watch him in action and help him recognize what he is doing so that he can adjust this.  Now, let me tell you that in all my years of consulting, I can count on the fingers of one hand, the leaders who actually approached me and asked me to do something like this.  This told me a great deal about the kind of leader Dave is.
From the moment the meeting started the energy in the room was so high that it flashed through my mind that Dave should hand out seat belts for visitors.  At first I thought that the coffee I had drunk earlier was too strong because I felt so pumped.  Then I realized it wasn’t only me, everyone in the room was pumped.
Dave set the scene for the meeting by saying; “Team I’m interested in every possible way of seeing this opportunity.  Challenge me, challenge each other and let’s come up with a solution that will knock the customer’s socks off!   So lets’ get started and remember to keep an open mind. I want a 360 degree view.”
I know for a fact that the individuals in Dave’s team are not intellectually superior, nor do they have higher education or greater experience than George’s team members who are unproductive and are  pulling in different directions.  What is completely different about this team, however, is the behavior they display and the open, honest way in which they communicate with each other.   The spirited debate between these team members is astonishing – and exciting!  The team members boldly express their opinions and feelings.  Each person presents a strong argument to motivate their point of view.  They quote statistics and innovative trends they had gleaned from the latest literature they had read and the conferences they had attended.
In a very short time, the courageous, authentic interaction between them brings a huge amount of creative input to the table. The team uses language that boosts creative thinking – “imagine this scenario” or “let me paint a picture.”   Their sense of urgency is evident, expressed in words like, “we’ve got no time to waste.  Our competitors are snapping at our heels.”  Dave frequently asks, “Speak to me about how this idea aligns with our vision and values?”
It struck me that despite the fact that their dialogue was fast and furious, honest and confronting, nobody was defensive or offended.  The lack of ego freed the team up.  They did not get into polarized options – my idea is better than yours; I am right, you are wrong.   Instead I watched them look for ways to incorporate the best of the different perspectives.  They speak about the brilliant iTunes solution that Steve Jobs had come up with for the music industry and use this to motivate themselves to think beyond the traditional boundaries. They keep asking themselves what strategic partners they could align with that would benefit from an integrative solution.
One of the most notable differences is that there is a lot of laughter in this team.  They were actually having fun, breaking out of the current models and bending the rules or making new ones. They were enjoying playing with all kinds of way out possibilities. The expression on Dave’s face was one of pride.  It was evident that he valued his team members and their input. And that they could feel this, which inspired them to offer everything they had to give.
Oh, and about that behavior that some people misunderstood about Dave – it turned out to be Dave’s spirited refusal to settle for a second best solution.
How many spirited characteristics does your team have?
In our team we:

Have a sense of humour
Are driven by a shared vision
Engage in spirited dialogue
Boldly challenge the status quo
Focus on the positives
Seek a broader view
Are enthusiastic and energetic
Communicate authentically
Assimilate multiple realities
Show humility

Invite Dr. Sandy Gluckman to your next conference or offsite meeting present one of her great keynotes.


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