How Ego Squanders Talent and Chokes the Life Out of Meetings

A great meeting is as rare as a white moose.

Count yourself fortunate if you ever see one.

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I just left a half-day meeting with a team that I’ve worked with over two years. It was great because of who they are and what I didn’t do.

3 directions:

Meetings include conversations in three directions.

  1. The leader talks to the people around the table.
  2. The people around the table talk to the leader.
  3. The people around the table talk to each other.

All three directions are relevant.


Successful leaders provide direction to meetings, but they don’t monopolize the conversation.

When one person does most of the talking, the people around the table disengage.

Yes, there are times when leaders speak to inform, provide focus, or add insight. But my experience indicates that leaders talk way too much in meetings.


Today, as I listened to the conversation, I felt a need to be the “wise one.” My ego whispered, “You have ‘the’ answer. After all, they hired you because you’re so smart.”

My ego loves me more than anyone else.


  1. Monopolizes conversations.
  2. Overshadows others.
  3. Needs the spotlight.
  4. Defends its viewpoint, rather than exploring another’s perspective.
  5. Adds too much “value” to the contributions of others.
  6. Loves to look like the smartest person at the table.

Ego in the leader sucks the life out of the talent around the table.

Leading the meeting isn’t dominating the conversation.

Talking to each other:

  1. Strengthens connections.
  2. Generates surprising insights and options.
  3. Fuels energy.

Bigger conversations:

Get people talking to each other.

  1. Fred, I noticed you haven’t contributed yet. What’s going through your mind?
  2. Where does Wilma’s comment take our conversation?
  3. Let’s generate a list of ideas that might help Barney work through his concern.

How might you lead meetings without dominating conversations?