5 ways to run a good meeting and avoid wasting everyone’s time

Today’s guest contributor is Cameron Herold, an executive passionate about good meetings, educator, speaker, driving force behind the growth of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and author of  Double Double. Cameron stepped into leadership young, beginning his first business at age 21.


how to run a meetingDo you suspect that your employees groan and grumble when they learn you have scheduled yet another meeting?

If that’s so, I have good news for you because it doesn’t have to be this way.

Meetings don’t have to be terrible.

We can make them better experiences for our employees by improving our leadership skill of running a meeting.

If we follow five simple steps to improve how we run our meetings, we will make better use of the time spent in meetings, enhance employee morale, and increase productivity in the process.

5 things to do to run a better meeting

1) Have an agenda.

Meetings that happen without having a clear agenda tend to get off track easily. Failing to define the purpose of a meeting results in having attendees who really don’t need to be there and who could be making a bigger impact by staying at their desk to work on important projects.

Create a concise agenda that includes the main purpose of the meeting, possible outcomes, and action items to be covered. An agenda prevents the meeting from being hijacked by some random topic. In addition, it allows more introverted team members to prepare what they want to say. Many introverts won’t chime in when they don’t know the agenda ahead of time, which means some great ideas could be missed.

2) Determine a meeting style.

There are three styles of meetings:

  1. Information sharing. In an information-share meeting, the information flows in one direction. Either employees tell the leadership something, or senior management has something to say to employees.
  2. Creative discussions are brainstorming sessions. People toss out ideas without any judgments made about feasibility or validity, and decisions come later.
  3. Consensus-decision meetings are held when a decision is needed.

3) Start on time and end early.

If you scheduled the meeting for 10 AM, start promptly at 10 AM to show respect for people’s times and to set the right example. If you can’t start a meeting on time, why would it be any different for anything else that’s going on in a company?

End your meetings five minutes early. Doing so gives people time to grab a cup of coffee, check emails, go to the restroom, or chat with colleagues before their next meeting.

4) Foster useful communication.

Some people talk a lot in every meeting. Others rarely speak. For a meeting to be successful, get everyone engaged. Foster dialogue with newcomers or quiet people first, and then go around the table, moving up in seniority as you solicit feedback or ideas. Also, make sure people are not distracted because they are responding to email on their cell phones or laptops.

5) Know your role.

Every meeting should have a chair, a timekeeper, participants, and a closer.

  • The chair announces the type of meeting it is and makes sure everyone sticks with the agenda. The chair is tasked with keeping the meeting from going sideways.
  • The timekeeper does what the name implies, making sure everyone stays on schedule and that no one lingers too long on any one point.
  • The participants should not be passive observers. They need to arrive prepared to contribute and to remain interested throughout the meeting.
  • The closer generally is going to be the chair. Meetings should always end with the chair posing the question: “Who’s doing what, and by when.” Closing in this manner assures that each person acknowledges his or her assignment and his or her deadline for achieving it.

Employee frustration will drop drastically if you can keep meetings focused on the task and avoid wasting time. You’ll get more done, get it done faster, and involve fewer people.

What has been your biggest pet peeve about meeting time wasters?



5 ways to make “this diversity thing” work

conflict is part of diversity“This diversity stuff just doesn’t work. We’ve been hiring women and minorities like crazy,” shared a client. “And our culture is in worse shape than it was before.”

This fellow isn’t alone in his doubts and frustration when first trying out this “diversity thing.” Unsure of what diversity really is but feeling internal and external pressure to have more of it, companies opt to simply define it as “making the numbers.” They then task HR with hiring more women and minorities, and that’s when their troubles begin.

6 signs of harmful management that decrease workplace optimism

Today’s guest contributor is Shawn Murphy, CEO and founder of Switch & Shift, an organization dedicated to the advancement of human-centered organizational practices and leadership. His book, The Optimistic Workplace, has just been released. When not consulting, Shawn can often be found in the classroom teaching, speaking to audiences, or interviewing top thought leaders on his Work That Matters podcast. 


Joy and optimistic peopleWhen it comes to work these days, we’re all expected to do more with less–but is this nose-to-the-grindstone philosophy the best way to run a business? Alarmingly low employee engagement numbers indicate otherwise.

So, if pushing everyone harder isn’t the path to productivity, what is?

I believe that our best work is the product of a positive environment. How it feels to work within an organization is a critical workforce development issue.

We need more leaders who are willing to choose to set a positive tone for their teams despite what senior management isn’t doing.

Destructive management is like a disease, draining people and infecting the whole workplace.

I’ve identified six core symptoms of destructive management—leadership practices that crush workplace optimism.

6 symptoms of destructive management

Symptom 1: Blind Impact.

A leader who is unaware of how her actions, attitude, and words impact others damages any opportunity for workplace optimism. She consistently underestimates people’s value and often fails to connect the dots between their work and organizational direction.

Symptom 2: Antisocial Leadership.

An antisocial leader lacks the ability to encourage, build, and evolve a community of people united by a shared purpose. Autocratic and even distrustful of people, he often dictates what workers should do and rarely praises or even credits them for their good work. Creating a void of connectedness, this symptom tends to leave people feeling used.

Symptom 3: Chronic Change Resistance.

What’s destructive about this symptom is the leader’s unwillingness to initiate change to help her team and organization remain relevant. If change is adopted, it’s usually late in the adoption curve. With this leader in charge, only incremental change is possible.

Symptom 4: Profit Myopia.

Leaders with profit myopia cling to the outdated belief that profit is the only success measure. Their teams chase solutions that satisfy shareholders and/or short-term goals, alienating customers and employees. Taking a chink out of the optimistic workplace is this leader’s narrow focus on his or her own personal income and rewards.

Symptom 5: Constipated Inspiration.

When a leader is too focused on her own needs and insecurities, she gives little attention to what her employees experience at work. As a result, she doesn’t see what inspires or demotivates them. This symptom stems from ignorance to personal values. When a leader knows what she stands for, she has greater capacity for learning about the people on her team.

Symptom 6: Silo Syndrome.

A leader afflicted with silo syndrome cannot see beyond his immediate responsibilities or see how work affects employees’ family lives. Also common is seeing people merely as a role—for example, people in sales know nothing about marketing. This mental shortcut makes it easy for a leader to devalue, disrespect, or ignore employees, which makes it impossible for optimism to thrive.

Overcoming resistance, deepening personal interest, motivation, commitment and loyalty—all of these things are possible when you deliberately and strategically focus real effort and make employee optimism a real and measurable metric. You can position employees to believe that work is a bright spot in their life.

I recommend that managers learn and deploy these critical strategies:

  • Understand the team is more important than any individual.

It’s a fact of neuroscience: our brains are wired to think about the thoughts, feelings, and goals of other people. Working as a team to achieve desired outcomes makes people feel good about work. For optimism to be strong, a cohesive team is vital. Managers and leaders need to avoid relying on the usual suspects, the same few superstars, to handle high-profile projects.

  • Know there’s value to experiencing joy at work.

Joy can open brains to better see connections and various options to solve work problems. In a joyful workplace, people are more likely to contribute their best. Expressing joy is simple. Give a proud smile when a team member does great work. Celebrate reaching key project milestones or momentous occasions in an employee’s life—buying a new house or having a baby, for example.

  • Recognize that doing good is good for business.

It’s not just about philanthropy. When leaders adopt business practices that contribute to improving employees’ lives, business prospers. Do something crazy—have an anti-workaholic policy. When team members have time to pursue personal interests, they are more productive and satisfied at work. Implement a policy banning team members from emailing other about business on weekends.

  • Make your relationships with employees richer.

Relationships are central to cooperation, collaboration, and successful outcomes. Take, for instance, the remarkable 2014 events at Market Basket, a 73-store grocery chain based in Massachusetts. When the board of directors ousted the company’s CEO and steward, Arthur T. Demoulas, in favor of his bottom-line driven cousin, Arthur S. Demoulas, employees responded by orchestrating a massive boycott. Strong relationships between employees, suppliers, and customers resulted in a collaborative effort that restored a beloved CEO and saved a company.

  • Make work align with purpose and meaning.

Why does work matter to your team members? For workplace optimism to thrive, organizational leaders must strive to find the answer to that question and then continually invest in making sure that work remains meaningful. A focus on financial motivators blinds leaders from helping employees do work that matters.

  • Have leaders actualize human potential.

Luck Companies, an aggregate business headquartered just outside of Richmond, Virginia, believes, to quote CEO Charlie Luck, that “all human beings have extraordinary potential to make a positive difference in the world.” For Luck, this belief shapes how its leaders treat one another, develop their associates, and spread the message globally.

Actualizing human potential puts the spirit into workplace optimism, which in turn inspires business leaders to put this belief into action.

How have you created more optimism in your workplace?




Women are good for your company’s bottom line

LeadBIG welcomes back guest contributor Debora McLaughlin, CEO of The Renegade Leader Coaching and Consulting Group, executive coach, and author. Debora helps business owners, executives, and managers ignite their inner renegade leader to unleash their full potential, drive their visions, and yield positive results both in business and in life.  


women do betterWhen you let women be women in the business world, they do better.

That’s according to a recent report from the Harvard Business Review, which makes the case that traditional thinking – that women should be treated no differently than men in corporate settings – is both flawed and regressive.

A major point made in HBR post is that only about 20 percent of businesswomen make partner. By expecting the same performance and outcomes from women what we expect from men, the corporate world is consciously and unconsciously excluding female leadership.

That’s a very bad thing, according to many. Kevin O’Leary of “Shark Tank” fame says that of his 27 companies, only the ones with female CEOs make him money.

Women are good for business, so it follows that what’s good for your best women will be good for your bottom line. I believe that women have the ability to elevate business results, which will provide a better return for stakeholders. I see an essential role for women in leading businesses into a new paradigm.

4 Reasons Why Women will Lead the Business World Forward

1. The old way doesn’t work.

Since 1955, more than 90 percent of the companies on the Fortune 500 list have gone bankrupt, shrunk in size, become inconsequential, been mopped up by their rivals or closed their doors. Sixty percent of CEOs think their current business model is only sustainable for another three years.

So with statistics like that, sticking too closely to old practices and beliefs, such as discouraging a woman’s nature in the corporate world, could likely involve your company in those dismal failure rate numbers.

2. The business world has already changed.

Technology hasn’t only revolutionized how we do business—it has also changed the workforce.

Today’s employees are smarter, more innovative, more creative, and full of potential. As Generations X and Y emerge as tomorrow’s leaders, Millennials are proving to be very resourceful workers. Old models like “command-and-control” don’t fit with a company’s most precious resource—its people.

3. Women are more social and excel in collaboration.

We shouldn’t generalize too narrowly along gender norms. However, it’s probably fair to say that women are more nurturing. Much of today’s traditional management methods focus on centralized authority.

Many women lead and manage differently, being more prone to sharing influence and fostering a creative culture of collaboration. While this outcome isn’t strictly a gender rule, it is a workplace reality that many women are, in the aggregate, more nurturing.

4. Momentum will continue to build for women leadership.

Momentum tends to build upon itself, which includes social change. While this change has been slower in the corporate world, we’re already seeing signs and opinions of change, such as the experience shared by Kevin O’Leary.

If the Harvard Business Review post is an indicator, women in business will feel more comfortable being themselves in a professional environment, a reality that will be a game-changer.

What do you think? Are women changing the nature of workplaces? What’s been your experience in seeing these four ways exhibited where you work?

Image credit before quote:  Gratisography




How to combine vision with 4 leadership models

Today’s guest contributor is Rob-Jan de Jong, speaker, writer, strategy and leadership consultant, and author of Anticipate: The Art of Leading By Looking Ahead. He serves as an expert lecturer at various leading business schools such as the Wharton Business School (USA), Thunderbird School of Global Management (USA), Nyenrode Business University (The Netherlands), and Sabanci Business University (Turkey).



leadership vision Whether it’s a presidential candidate, a corporate executive or an NFL coach, people admire a leader with vision.

They like someone with a clear idea of where he or she is headed, and who knows how to motivate others to accomplish the goal.

But as much as people might like to say someone is a “born visionary,” in truth, vision is something we develop, not something we arrive in the world with.

One thing visionaries have in common is that they have the ability to notice things early. They recognize that significant change is happening and make use of the opportunities it presents.

Can you identify your distinctive strengths?

This is mash-up post! Part book review and part inspiration, both thanks to Whitney Johnson and her latest book, Disrupt Yourself:  Putting the Power of Disruptive Innovation to Work. Be prepared to answer “yes” to Whitney’s question, “Are you ready to jump?”


jump on strengthsOne of the most insightful and telling exercises I do in my workshops with women leaders is asking them to list their personal strengths.

It’s amazing to see powerful women pause, either uncertain of what to list or fearful of appearing too brash and bold for knowing what they do well.

Whitney Johnson, author of Disrupt Yourself, defines a distinctive strength as “something that you do well that others within your sphere don’t.”

3 ways for leaders to be role models for going above and beyond

going above and beyondI was working in another state, traveling in an area unfamiliar to me. At the end of the day, I asked a member of the management team if there was a route I could take back to my hotel that might bypass the crazy rush hour traffic.

“Of course there is. I’ll show you,” she replied.

My expectation was that she would provide directions and perhaps show me a map. But that’s not what she meant when she said she would show me.

She wanted me to follow her vehicle as she led me back to the hotel!

5 tips for leaders looking to unleash creativity

Today’s guest contributor is Neill Wallace, an author, consultant and former sales and marketing executive. Neill, who resides in Portland, Oregon, is passionate about leadership.


ideas and creativityComputers, smart phones, the internet, and the like have made our work habits vastly different from what they were less than a generation ago. Even more important is technology’s impact in heightening the speed in which companies need to constantly adapt their strategy.

As such, it’s important for companies to have innovative employees who have both the time and engagement to generate ideas.

Despite all the changes and technological advances occurring around us, the work environment and long-held management beliefs have stayed mostly the same, which unfortunately stifles creativity.

Anatomy of transformative leadership change

Today’s guest contributor is Karen Kimsey-House, the co-author of Co-Active Leadership and Co-Active Coaching. Additionally, she is the co-founder and CEO of the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post. Learn more about Karen’s work at http://www.thecoaches.com or connect with her on Twitter @kkimseyhouse


transformative changeI’ve been thinking lately about transformative change (change that occurs at the level of identity or being) and how it is a process with several stages or phases.

This is not a novel idea. 

Many others have created a map for a transformative journey, Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey being one well-known model.

Loving it: 5 ways to co-actively lead

5 ways to leadI love it when something challenges us to reconsider entrenched paradigms, and that’s just what Karen and Henry Kimsey-House do in their new book, Co-Active Leadership:  Five Ways to Lead. This short, pithy gem gives us  five dimensions of choice, opportunity, and possibility for creating a 360 degree model of leadership support for leading ourselves as well as others.

Sticking with the theme of 5 ways, there are five reasons why this book resonates with me.