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6 Meeting Saboteurs Every Leader Meets

“If a leader does not have great meetings, he or she is not an effective leader.” Patrick Lencioni

6 Meeting saboteurs:

(The original list had two 2’s in it. I fixed the numbering below and decided to leave the article title the same.)

Prepare for saboteurs if you lead meetings.

#1. Elmer Email pretends he’s taking notes, but he’s reading and sending emails.

Solution: Use pen and paper. Put away all cell phones and laptops.

#2. Shirley Squirrel chases irrelevant ideas, sister to Harry Hijacker.

Solution: Say, “I’m lost. Could you help me see the connection to our current topic?”

#3. William Wetinski sucks the life out of every encounter.

Solution: Assign solo work to life-suckers.

Solution: Ask vampires to brief the team on a topic. Turn to the team for recommendations.

Tip: Coach vampires on Emotional Intelligence.

#4. Tanya Tardy comes late and apologizes.


  1. Start on time.
  2. Ignore her when she arrives.
  4. Speak to her privately.

#5. Ned Needmore can’t decide because he needs more information.

Solution: Ask Mr. Needmore what he needs if he had to decide today. (Read: How to Move the Agenda Forward and Make People Feel Powerful.)

#6. Franny Fault-Finder kills ideas before they get legs.

Solution: Ask Ms. Fault-Finder, “What’s the next step if you had to bring this idea to life?”

3 reasons to meet:

  1. To do things that are best done in groups.
  2. To experience spontaneity.
  3. To save time. Meetings that waste time are evil.

Meeting tip:

Bill Gates rule for meetings: Have short agendas. Provide time for lively discussion.

In general, 60% of meeting time should be reserved for discussion. (Bob Herbold, former COO Microsoft)


A blabbermouth at the head of the table causes lifeless meetings. Any meetings where one person talks and everyone around the table sits like obedient children are about ego.

Send an email or do a video monologue if one person is going to do all the talking.

What meeting saboteurs have you seen?

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