How to Transform Meetings That Suck the Life Out of You


When was the last time you left a meeting ready to charge hell with a squirt gun?



Lousy meetings are problem-solving activities with the wrong people in the room. The topic eventually becomes, “What do “they” need to do?”

“We” turns to “they” in lousy meetings.



#1. When meetings focus on people who aren’t in the room, leadership becomes telling. Expectations, direction, and accountability dominate conversations.

‘Telling-leaders’ don’t think of getting their hands dirty with building relationships and developing talent.

If all you do is give directions, you’re a road sign, not a leader.


A road sign has no power except what we give it.

Authority and punishment are the bastions of safety for directive leaders. 

#2. Arrogance sets in when the wrong people are in the room. Suddenly you’re better than the culprits who aren’t in the meeting. Talking-about is easier than talking-with.

  1. “They need to… .”
  2. “Why aren’t they… .”
  3. “They should… .”
  4. “We’re not going to… .”
  5. “We’re better than… .”

When we compare our superior behavior to someone’s inferior performance, our noses ride just a bit higher.



You might not believe it, but meetings don’t have to suck the life out you and your team.

  1. Make meetings small and short. The energy of a meeting is inversely proportional to the number of attendees multiplied by its duration.
  2. Include people who get their hands dirty doing real work.
  3. Mix operations with development. Begin meetings with:
    • “What are you achieving that makes you proud?”
    • “What did you do to achieve that?”
    • “How might you be even better?”
    • Turn to your traditional agenda.
    • Conclude with, “Who does what by when?”


Meetings generate energy when:

  1. Teams brag about wins.
  2. Relationships are strengthened.
  3. The path forward is clear.
  4. Accountability focuses on the people around the table.


What would be true of a meeting that gives more energy than it takes?

What’s one thing leaders should never do in meetings?