Thursday, March 12, 2009

Do You Know Your Meeting Leader Style?

Take the Meeting Leader Fitness Test
By Marv Weisbord

You have called a staff meeting to consider the 2009 budget. You need 100% support. Below are participant concerns that might prove distracting. Choose the best solution for each person consistent with your objective—

Person A forgot to put out the dog. You would—
a. Send him home in a company car.
b. Point out that many dogs would be glad to be alone in a home like his.
c. Report him to the SPCA.
b. Support his feelings. “I once forgot to put out my cat. Fortunately, she used the litter box."

Person B misplaced her cell phone. You would—
a. Offer her yours.
b. Suggest she use a pay phone (if she can find one).
c. Give her a discount coupon for Advanced Memory Supplement.
d. Support her feelings: “I misplaced my glasses once. They were on my nose.”

Person C says the room is too cold. You would--
a. Call the janitor.
b. Move the meeting to another room.
c. Point out that global warming affects everyone.
d. Support his feelings: “I often am too cold. That’s why I wear a sweater.”

Person D has the room being too warm. You would--
a. Call the janitor (again).
b. Postpone the meeting until Fall.
c. Ask who else feels too warm while removing your sweater.
d. Have D and C dialogue until they both feel comfortable.

Person E is fuming because you forgot her birthday. You would--
a. Apologize and ask what the date was again.
b. Say your email greeting must have got lost in cyberspace.
c. Note that she is looking younger than ever.
d. Support her feelings: “I forget my kid’s birthday too.”

Person F hates meetings and wants this one shorter. You would--
a. Say the meeting is shorter. You planned four hours and cut it to three.
b. Tell her you can make a budget without her. Is that what she wants?
c. Offer to drop two future meetings if she stays for this one.
d. Support her feelings: “I too wish it were shorter, but it already is.”

Person G is competing with H for a promotion. You would--
a. Reassure them that they are well qualified and the best person will win.
b. Note that you like them both and may toss a coin to decide.
c. Point out that backing your budget can’t hurt their careers.
d. Support their feelings: “There are winners and losers in life, and you should be able to have a drink together anyway.”

Person I must leave early. You would--
a. Remind him that he left early last year. Is this a pattern?
b. Offer to pick a more convenient time if he gets everyone to agree.
c. Ask him (wink-wink) if he has another meeting he can’t talk about.
d. Support his feelings: “I wish I could leave early too, but it’s my meeting.”

Person J forgot his lunch and has a strict diet. You would--
a. Send for the dietician.
b. Arrange a lunch delivery from a kosher deli.
c. Alert the company physician.
d. Support his feelings: “It’s not easy to work on an empty stomach.”

Your answers reveal your MANAGEMENT STYLE (MS).

If you are a Decisive Authoritarian Leader (DAL), you would ignore the dog, alert the doctor, give Persons C and D three minutes to agree on room temperature, wish E a happy birthday, and inform G and H that the promotion goes to the one who impresses you the most in this meeting. Tell F, I and J that if they don’t stop whining you’ll add back the extra hour and reduce their summer vacations.

If you are a collaborative democratic leader (CDL), you would support everybody’s feelings, emphasize the goal and time constraints, ask G and H to agree who gets the promotion, and remind everyone that you are buying lunch. Have each person hold up a little card on which they have written an ideal room temperature. Average their numbers and call the janitor. Finally, have them write their desired meeting length on the other side of the card (saving trees, as the company is now green). Have a volunteer average these numbers. Announce that you too hate meetings, but you will meet daily with them for their ideal average time until they ratify the budget.

If you are a libertarian laizzez faire leader (LLF), you would say, “I realize each of you have concerns I unfortunately do not share. Take responsibility and deal with them as you wish. Just stay out of each others' personal space and have breaks when you want. I’ll do the budget with or without your input. Or whatever.”

--Marv Weisbord