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Daisy Wademan Dowling

Daisy Wademan Dowling

Daisy Wademan Dowling, executive director of leadership development at a Fortune 500 company, writes a regular column for the Harvard Business Review and is author of the 2004 book, "Remember Who You Are."

The Golden Rule of Meetings

The real reason leaders end up in too many meetings? Because it's flattering: having your presence "required" at many meetings makes you feel important - it's tangible proof of how much your people and your organization need you. But being in too many meetings every day wreaks havoc on your schedule and your ability to focus on bigger goals. I've seen too many corporate leaders sacrifice their own strategic vision - and ultimately, their own performance - because they've let themselves become hostage to Conference Room B.

The Golden Rule of Meetings is to go to all the ones you absolutely need to and to delegate and minimize the rest. When the executives I coach are asked to go through a week of Outlook-calendar entries and systematically flag the meetings they could have sent someone else to, they're usually stunned: Suddenly, hours of previously unavailable time open up. When they resolve to keep all meetings to 15 minutes unless presented with a compelling reason otherwise, their amount of free time increases drastically again.

Delegation is scary - what if the person you've sent to the meeting on your behalf messes up? - and short meetings require discipline. But with the extra time generated from both techniques, you can be out doing what's important - talking to your people, observing the organization's area for improvement, coaching your top performers, launching a new product, or planning for next year.

By Daisy Wademan Dowling

 |  October 6, 2009; 3:11 PM ET
Category:  Accomplishing Goals Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: In Praise of Meetings | Next: The $2,000 Meeting

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