I sat in a meeting yesterday in which the convener of the meeting started talking and went on for about 15 minutes. At first I became a bit irritated, and then realized that this was an important part of the meeting, in which this person needed to tell us about an exciting event in their life. As I settled into listening, it became very clear to me that without the leader sharing their story, we could not have settled into the rest of the meeting, so I calmed myself down and enjoyed the story. Eventually we got back to the agenda and had a very good meeting. It was at that point that the title of today's blog came to me.
I believe there are times when it needs to be "my agenda." As I considered this title, I started thinking about other times when the convener/facilitator/leader needs to own the agenda and just talk. Here is my list as I think about it today:
- when an important event has occured in one's life...after a long vacation (like a month in Maine), a wonderful concert, a great student event, the birth of a child, a recent wedding or funeral, it might be importnat for you to share your reflections. First, you need to share your personal excitement so you can focus your energies on the meeting; and second, the people around the table will know a little bit more about you
- when a value has been violated...it's often the elephant in the room about which no one wants to talk. As the person in charge (and the person charged with creating and upholding the values) it might be time to talk about why the value is in place, how it has been violated, share stories about the power of that value, and begin to hold people accountable to living that value out. 10-15 minutes may not be too long to speak to this point
- when laying out a vision...whether it is at the beginning of the process where you might be thinking out loud or toward the end of the process where the vision has crystalized, this is a time for the convener to hold the floor for awhile and let people listen. Hhaving your ideas become words is a critical piece in making the vision a reality, and needing to say it over and over in different ways is important at this stage
- when confessing your faults...whether it is a slip in judgement or a mistake made or something of a grievious nature, this is a time when you speak and allow yourself to let people know that you know you have messed up. This probably is not a 15 minute monologue, but it takes time for you to be vulnerable and show your willingness to say "I'm sorry." Be sure to pause at the end and allow those around the table to pronounce forgiveness
- when critical issues arise...at those moments when everything seems to be falling apart, the leader needs to stand up and speak to the team, sometimes without questions being asked. The more sensitive the issue, the more important it is that you have thought out what you will say and how you will say it. Sometimes there will be no dialogue due to the personal nature of the issue at hand; at other times, there will be a place for questions and others' best thinking. Careful explanation with as many details as can be shared are important for the group to hear
- I need you all to give me a few minutes to speak to you directly
- the next few minutes are my time to talk
- an important event has come up that will take some time for me to explain to all of you
- I normally don't like to talk for a long time, but the next few minutes are mine to do that
- I need for all of you indulge me for the next ten minutes while I tell you about...
- I need you all to listen closely for the next 10 minutes and be ready to ask questions and give me feedback when I am done
My learning for the week is that there are times I need to own the agenda - and that there are times others need to own the agenda. I think there is a proper way to do that, and I also think that it should not be done too often. What do you think?