How to Solve the #1 Problem with Meetings


Bosses need to run meetings because they need to exercise authority and control. That attitude hinders free, honest involvement by participants. Worse yet, controlling-bosses obstruct ownership. Others won’t own what you own.

The problem with meetings is bosses run them.

No one can effectively manage a meeting and participate at the same time. Transform meetings by training new employees to – facilitate – manage meeting. Facilitators don’t participate with content they manage the process.

Meeting facilitators:

Martin Murphy, author of, “No More Pointless Meetings said, “The boss or highest ranking person in the room should not run workflow management sessions.” Martin prefers calling meetings “workflow management sessions.”

Assign junior team members to run – facilitate – meetings. They don’t give input they manage the meeting, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

Power and control:

Murphy’s suggestion freaks out leaders who need to sit at the head of the table exercising control. The whole dynamic stinks of inappropriate command and control leadership.

Sit at the foot of the table not the head.


Stop pretending you’re collaborating when you’re manipulating.

If you know the outcome of the meeting before the meeting, DON’T call a meeting. Meetings with pre-determined outcomes are manipulations. Have the integrity and courage to say, “This is what I want.” Say it and save everyone time.

Keep control if you must. If you need to set the agenda, do it. If not, work with the team to set agendas, for example.

Real collaboration:

If you’re genuinely interested in collaborative processes that produce collaborative results, stop running meetings. Train junior team members to facilitate meetings, instead. They manage processes while everyone else, including you, participates.

How would meetings change if bosses stopped running them?

What skills should meeting facilitators possess or develop?

Note: We had technical difficulties with yesterday’s call with Dr. Henry Cloud. My apologies for any inconvenience this caused you. We’re working to reschedule using another platform. Stay tuned and thank you for your patience.

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