29 Nov Being An Inclusive Leader In Meetings
For years, we have been hearing about diverse leadership teams driving better financial performance. In an HBR.org article, it was noted that the performance was better because diverse teams gathered more facts, processed those facts more carefully to guide actions, and were more innovative because of the different perspectives at the table.
More recently, the conversation has turned to recognize that it is not just diversity but also the inclusion of different perspectives that drives the performance improvements. After all, per Gartner, “Diversity is the first and easier step, but inclusion is the key to leveraging diversity.” If your people can’t actually engage and contribute in ways that make sense to them and that are comfortable for them, then you’re not going to be able to benefit from their diverse strengths and skills.
Over the course of my career, I have had the benefit of being in some meetings where leaders were truly inclusive. Instead of letting the same people talk over others and dominate, they intentionally pulled out the voices of the quieter, less-verbal team members to get the best out of everybody.
Here are three techniques I have found to be particularly effective and impactful.
- Amplification. Have you ever been in a meeting where someone mentioned a great idea, no one really paid attention to it, then someone else presented the same idea as their own, and everyone thought that person was a genius? In amplification, team members repeat the idea of the person who initially presented the idea in order to literally pull out and amplify the idea—not just the volume but to assign proper ownership of the idea, give it credibility, and validate its worthiness of being discussed. Check out more here.
- Advanced Written Preparation. When working in Hong Kong, I was faced with issues in staff meetings related to language, hierarchy, and a room full of great employees who were not going to engage in lively verbal debates (although the non-verbal communication was tremendous). Realizing that I needed to take a different approach to meetings than the very Western, “So tell me how xxx is going,” I started handing out index cards before meetings with questions on them. I phrased the questions like, “Write down three things that worked well with this launch” and “Write down three things that we can improve upon for next time.”