Recently, I have read several excellent articles on conducting meetings including Evan Thompson’s recent article in the Globe and Mail’s Leadership Lab. To have a positive, productive and progressive meeting, you need a realistic and results-driven agenda that demonstrates the support, agreement and contribution of each attendee. Have you ever noticed that even though the meeting agenda has been agreed to in advance by all participants that each of them arrive armed with their own specific and often secret agenda? Some of these agendas are fuelled by control, some by power, some by insecurity, some by fantasy, some by confusion, some by misinformation, some by misunderstanding and some by selfishness.
So ask yourself this question, when you attend an in person meeting or have a face-to-face conversation with your family, friends, leader, client/customer or colleague, are you agenda aware, active, adverse or arrogant?
If you are agenda aware, you are also extremely perceptive, highly intuitive, politically savvy and are far more concerned about others and their needs than you are about yourself and your needs. Whether you are a participant in a group meeting or a one-to-one conversation, you are the one who has abandoned your own agenda in favour of listening intently to what is being said and not being said and observing the body language and reactions of the other person or people as clear indicators of their agendas. You see your success in the meeting or conversation as your ability to subtly figure out an agenda and produce a mutually beneficial strategy or solution that satisfies one or more agendas.
If you are agenda active, you are clear, certain, confident, communicative and collaborative. Whether you are a participant in a group meeting or a one-to-one conversation, you encourage others to abandon their own agendas in favour of pursuing the established agenda. You often possess the most interest, influence and information and you motivate others to accomplish as much as possible, avoid getting stuck in the past, focusing on the present and keep moving forward into a brilliant future. You see success as completing the defined agenda and having participants in a group meeting or the other person in your conversation stepping up, making a commitment and taking a generous share of responsibility.
If you are agenda adverse, you avoid office politics, see meetings as a waste of time and effort and view meetings with leaders and colleagues as fraught with the possibility of conflict and confrontation. Whether you are a participant in a group meeting or a one-to-one conversation, you see the established agenda as being a barrier to progress. You have no agenda and prefer to sit quietly and rarely voice your ideas or opinions for fear that they will be criticized or opposed by others who have strong views and defined agendas. You are often the one who utters a few words or sentences that can change the tone or direction of a meeting or conversation and the minds and perceptions of its participants. You see success as everyone collaborating enthusiastically in getting things done and having the opportunity to share their feelings honestly and comfortably rather than just their thoughts.
If you are agenda arrogant, you are self-absorbed, self-directed, self-confident and self-driven. There is no other agenda but your agenda. Getting your own way is not an option or a privilege, it is a right. You will use your power and position to intimidate others to follow your agenda whether it is the right one for themselves, for the team, for the business and for the organization. Whether you are a participant in a group meeting or a one-to-one conversation, you are dictating the agenda and are speaking the most and loudest whether or not you know what you are talking about. Understanding the issues and concerns of others is of no importance to you. You are often powerful, influential and charismatic and few will challenge you. You see success as others owning your agenda and doing what you want without disagreement or discouragement.
So the next time you attend a meeting or participate in a conversation, remember to ask yourself as you prepare for the meeting, enter the meeting room, sit at the meeting table or replay the meeting or conversation in your mind after the fact, are you agenda aware, active, adverse or arrogant?