Archives February 2021

Meetings – The Linchpin of Organizational Health

Recently, someone asked me how I know whether a client is really going to be successful in achieving organizational health.

Read what organizational health really is

It is a great question.

While there are several factors involved in making such a prediction, I’m convinced that one single indicator demonstrates that a client really “gets it,” that they are likely to experience the kind of transformation that only organizational health can bring about. Though that indicator isn’t directly related to teamwork, clarity, communication or systems, it connects all of these disciplines in a way that nothing else can.

What I’m talking about are meetings.

Yes, meetings.

Not the kind of meetings that non-healthy organizations have, the ones where every issue under the sun gets thrown onto an agenda, nothing seems to get decided, unimportant topics and PowerPoint presentations take up valuable time. Executives check their watches, waiting for the painful ritual to end.

I’m talking about meetings with clarity, focus and intense interaction.

Most of our clients immediately understand the importance of the meetings model I propose to them, and they excitedly adopt it. Adoption is rarely the challenge, as my approach is simple and practical. The bigger obstacle they face – and this is a litmus test of sorts – is whether they will have the discipline and courage to stay with those meetings over the long haul and keep passionately focused on the most critical issues.

Solving a problem is one thing; continuing to exploit that solution after its novelty has worn off is another. Too many leaders struggle with discipline, getting bored with consistency and continuity and searching for something new and exciting. And many of them, even if they do stick to the structure of their meetings, lack courage when entering the danger around difficult topics, choosing a more harmonious path instead.

How Healthy is our team? Take the survey

The myth that meetings are inherently bad.

 For some reason, we have accepted that meetings are a necessary evil of organizational life. Worse, we think all meetings are painful and unproductive time wasters.

But the fact is, bad meetings are a reflection of bad leaders. Worse yet, they take a more devastating toll on a company’s success than we realize.

Fortunately, for those who are willing to challenge the notion that meetings are unfixable, it is possible to transform what is now tedious and debilitating into something productive, focused, even energizing.

However, the key to improving meetings has nothing to do with better preparation, agendas or minutes. To address the problem, leaders need to understand why they are so bad, take a contrarian view of meetings and apply a few basic guidelines.

Meetings are bad due to two basic problems.

  • First, meetings are boring.
  • Second, most meetings lack context and purpose. They are a confusing mix of administrivia, tactics, strategy and review, all of which create unfocused, meandering and seemingly endless conferences with little resolution or clarity.


The Meeting Agenda That Creates Drama and Clarity

            Lightning Round (Report) – (What and where does each individual need help on work that is deemed the “Most Important Right Now”)

            Organizational Clarity  – (Confirm Clarity – every time to ensure the meeting is focused on the right work)

      1. Why Do We Exist?
      2. How Do We Behave
      3. What Do We Do?
      4. How Will We Succeed?

What Is Most Important Right Now? (Thematic Goal)

How to decide what is the most important thing to be working on

Today’s Topics (should be directly connected with achieving the Thematic Goal)

      1. Topics for discussion
      2. Topics for strategic meetings – are there subject so strategic and important that they require their own meeting
      3. Decisions
      4. Cascading Communications Messages

How to be the Chief Reminder Officer

Closing Thoughts

The fact is, running a healthy organization is neither sexy nor comfortable.

Leaders who want to be stimulated and entertained more than they want their companies to succeed will often find it too taxing.

They’ll be easily tempted by the latest fad or flavour of the month, which almost always means their meetings will become scattered, unfocused and inconsistent.

What is particularly ironic about all of this is that eventually and inevitably, those meetings become boring.

And so, here is my advice to any leader considering the journey toward making his or her organization healthy: know that one of your primary responsibilities, perhaps the most important one, is ensuring that your meetings are outstanding.

Make them a constant, living example of teamwork, clarity and communication.

As unsexy as that may seem, there is no greater predictor of organizational health.

14 Secret Habits That Will Make You A More Effective Leader

14 Secret Habits That Will Make You A More Effective Leader

I’ve been working with leaders for almost… a very long time. And in this blog, I’ve distilled down the “secret leadership habits” that define the best leaders I have ever met.

Before you jump into the 14 Habits, I want to ask you: Why do you want to be a more effective leader?

Your answer will be very personal to you. But I will tell you this: the best leaders have an answer.

I’m sure you’re asking, are these really secrets?

14 Secret Leadership Habits To Make You A More Effective Leader

Not really, because they’re in plain view. But since most people don’t follow these leadership habits, they might as well be state secrets.

So, what are these secret habits then?

HABIT #1: The best leaders are students of human behaviour.

They notice what people do. The best leaders read about human behaviour. They study human behaviour and pay attention.

They read books, not just about leadership, but also influence, communication and all manner of things about how the human brain works and why we behave the way we behave; because as leaders, we are leading humans.

HABIT #2: The best leaders are students of their behaviour.

They try to understand why they do what they do, when they do it, how they do it and what triggers them.

HABIT #3: The best leaders are students of organizational behaviour.

They are students of how teams work, of how large and small organizations interact and work; they study and understand the culture of organizations and what creates it and what it is and how it works. Because they are leading inside an organization, they understand the importance of continually studying and learning about organizational behaviour.

Speaking of organizational culture, here’s how to stop a work culture of harassment.

HABIT #4: The best leaders are students of communication.

When is the best way to communicate? How is the best way to communicate? Why do we communicate? They realize in the end, it’s not just about what they say, but how their message gets received. It doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes – quite the opposite. However, by being a student of communication, they’re continually getting better.

You’ll notice the first four leadership habits all use the word ‘student,’ so all those habits in effect are about the learning that leads us to skills.

HABIT #5: The best leaders are observant.

Being a student of your behaviour requires you to be self-aware, and being a student of organizational behaviour requires you to be observant. And it’s all about noticing what’s going on around you.

HABIT #6: The best leaders are self-aware.

They know about themselves; they know what their strengths are, what their weaknesses are. They are honest enough with themselves to be aware and to work on strengthening their strengths and minimizing the effects of their weaknesses.

(While you’re here, don’t miss 5 Leadership Actions That Will Drive A 7% Increase in Profit – And Who Doesn’t Want More Profit?)

HABIT #7: The very best leaders are extraordinarily reflective.

This takes us back to my original question, why do you want to be a more effective leader?

Being reflective is one of the keys to being more effective at anything, to allow us to learn from our experience, and it’s true for the very best leaders.

HABIT #8: The best leaders are proactive.

They act. They don’t sit back and wait.

This doesn’t mean they fly off the handle, but it does mean though that they have a bias for acting. The best leaders are proactive. They know there are things to do and — they are getting them done for themselves, for their teams, for their organization.

HABIT #9: The best leaders are accountable.

They are accountable to themselves.

They realize that for everything that happens, they have some influence on it. And they ask themselves and think about what they need to do to make this better, what part of this belongs to them. They help others be accountable, too, of course, but it all starts with them.

HABIT #10: The best leaders are learners.

They are learners first and foremost through building leadership habits (including the very ones we’ve discussed here). They’re aware of the power of habits, and they recognize doing that is an essential part of how they learn.

They also look for opportunities to learn. They’re looking at the world through the filter of, how can I use this to be a better leader.

And because they know training is an important part of their learning journey, they don’t assume it’s enough, and they don’t wait for someone to offer training.

They know their learning does not equate to how much training they have had. This doesn’t mean they don’t value training; it means they know it’s only part of the puzzle.

They’re willing to invest in themselves, whether that’s time or money. And even if the organization doesn’t initiate it, even if they must negotiate with their boss or organization to get what they want.

HABIT #11: The best leaders are readers.

Reading is a tremendous opportunity to learn (yep, that leadership habit again). Whether reading a blog post, whether reading a book, the best leaders are readers.

HABIT #12: The best leaders seek out feedback.

The best leaders want to know how to improve. They seek out feedback – from their teams and others around them. The reason they improve is they want to improve. And they improve through being open to, seeking out, and listening to feedback.

HABIT #13: The best leaders have high expectations of themselves.

And even if they don’t, they’re working to build them because they realize their belief in themselves and the expectations they place on themselves matter.

HABIT #14: The best leaders have coaches.

The best leaders, the best people at any skill, have a coach. Coaches provide so many things for us, and it doesn’t matter what the experience level or field of expertise – the best want to get better, and that hunger for knowledge drives them to look for a perspective outside of their own. They look to and have coaches.

The bottom line goes back to the question I asked at the beginning of this report: Why do you want to be a more effective leader?

The best leaders have a crystal-clear answer to this, and that clear reason drives everything. Period.

Now you may have thought I would tell you the best leaders were great communicators or have this set of skills or another. But the magic, the opportunity, happens when you combine skills with the habits we’ve reviewed here.

Put these leadership habits to work.

So now we come to the real question of – what should you do with these leadership habits? These secrets?

The first thing you should do is get started. Which of these leadership habits do you need to be practicing but aren’t?

Which one is something you’ve heard feedback from others on or is an area you can improve?

Whatever it is, pick one and act.

Did you like reading about leadership habits? Here are three posts to read next:

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check these out, too:

The High Cost of Poor Leadership
10 Signs You Have a Scary Boss
People Pleasing Leaders & Soup Sandwiches – 5 Messes You Make When You Try to Make Everyone Happy

For more help with putting these leadership habits to work, you’ll also want to have a look at my 1-on-1 coaching services.

This article was first published in 2018, but it was updated in 2020 just for you.