Yesterday, I posed a question: what do the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations and Yahoo! have in common? My answer? They are fuzzy not focused. They both have unclear vision for those wondering what they are after.
Today, I’d like to offer some practical steps for leaders who are trying to offer clear leadership to their organizations. Let’s get down to brass tacks. In most team meetings, time is wasted and action steps are unclear. Meetings without outcomes are a waste of time. Yet, many meetings fail to produce results because the conversation circles around the issues rather than focuses on them. To make sure decisions happen and people take action, you need to have a productive dialogue.
The following four items represent a description of what every meeting should be. They are adapted from the Harvard Business Review:
1. Open. The outcomes of your meeting should not be predetermined. Questions like, “What are we missing?” signal honest searching for alternative perspectives.
2. Candid. Encourage people to air conflicts. When people express their real opinions, productivity increases.
3. Informal. Keep it loose. Conversations should be unscripted with honest questions and spontaneity.
4. Conclusive. Everyone should leave knowing exactly what they are expected to do. I have said for years—the most important item in every meeting is: next steps.
Here is to leading with clarity, even though times are uncertain. Don’t emulate the leadership of Yahoo! or Occupy Wall Street today. Declare a specific outcome and specific steps your team must take.