Know When to Give Up on an Agenda to Meet a Goal

Have you ever tried to force an outcome at a meeting?

Had information you thought you needed to share? Worried that you wouldn’t make it through all of your agenda items?

Me too.

This experience makes us confront our fears and other feelings. We get concerned about being seen as less effective. We get frustrated with people who won’t follow our lead and “stay on task.” We wonder how we’re going to get everything done.

I had this kind of experience when facilitating a session with employees at a large international bank on how to have difficult conversations. Here’s what it taught me.

Sometimes as leaders, we think “leading” is our job. It’s easy to forget that we need to listen to our people, meet them where they are, and assess what their needs are in the moment.

Let them talk about a situation to work it out. To bounce ideas off each other: including disagreeing and hashing through things. And just be present and attentive — until they need us — while providing a safe place for whatever happens.

This helps them to own whatever direction the group decides on, because they have an active role in creating it.

Here’s the truth. When we go with the flow — rather than trying to force it in the direction our agenda says it should go — often the result is better than it would have if they’d just followed our lead.

(Curious about that process for making difficult conversations more productive? You’ll find it here.)