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Andy Stern
Labor leader

Andy Stern

Andy Stern is president of the two-million member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the fastest-growing union in North America.

Endless Cylce of Activity

"When in doubt, meet" is too often a solution for many individuals. Coordination is not always a virtue. Good organizations differentiate between meetings as activities and meetings that promote forward movement. Leaders who fail to make a "meeting plan" can find themselves trapped in an endless cycle of activity without much movement towards long-term organizational goals.

The first goal of meeting planning is to define "essential meetings," where only the leader can either lead or represent the organization -- the most obvious being board-of-directors meetings -- and then having key work partners review your definition of the "essential," since often our judgments as leaders are suspect. Essential meetings are the foundation your meeting plan. Hopefully, your essential meetings match the essential mission of your organization and, if not, regroup.

The second area for planning is "significant value" meetings where your presence adds to the goals of your organization. In most cases good leaders can always add value, but deciding if your participation is of marginal or maximal value, and whether it stifles other leaders' development or promotes it is critical.

Third, there are often ceremonial or outside meetings that send messages by your presence. These are "sending a message" meeting where your appearance denotes that something is either important to you or your organization at a moment in time.

Over time, a good leader finds ways to substitute others -- i.e. emerging leaders -- to play some of these meeting roles and prepare and empower future successor(s) to handle meetings in their absence as a opportunity for personal development.

Meetings can be bane or a boon for an organization. Differentiating between activity and moving your organization forward and categorizing meetings by purpose can be a useful exercise for a leadership team.

By Andy Stern

 |  October 6, 2009; 6:15 AM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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