Meetings | January 22, 2020

How to Run a Leadership Meeting: Topics and Agendas

image representing How to Run a Leadership Meeting: Topics and Agendas

There are many types of business meetings: team meetings, 1:1 meetings between managers and their direct reports, distributed meetings, client meetings, stakeholder meetings, and leadership meetings, just to name a few.

Leadership meetings are one of the most important—but why? How can you run more effective leadership meetings in your own organization? We’re here to bring you the management meeting topics, tips, and tricks your leadership team needs to achieve success 👏!

Why Are Leadership Meetings Valuable?

The leadership team sets the tone and focus for the entire organization. This means having leaders that are aligned on company goals who are able to work together towards achieving them, creating the recipe for a successful company 🥣.

Essentially, you want your management team to operate like a well-oiled machine… but this can be incredibly difficult to achieve. Each leader within an organization will have different priorities based on their specific job role or department. For example, the CFO may be focused on finances while the HR Director is likely more concerned with how budget changes would affect their staff. Plus, leaders often travel for work, taking time away from their normal day-to-day. With such hectic schedules and so many things to keep track of, it can make getting everyone together a challenge 😩. How can you overcome these obstacles?

The most important ingredient in this recipe for success is consistency and communication 🗣️! Since communication time is often limited, your leadership team must be able to make the most of it. It’s essential to talk openly, regularly, and effectively in team meetings.

The primary goal of leadership meetings is to make decisions, solve problems, and ensure the organization’s day-to-day operations and processes are aligned. Team meetings are also a place to gather, bond, and build rapport as a leadership unit. Participants should look forward to attending these meetings and leave feeling energized and inspired💡!

However, none of this will be possible if the leaders in your organization never talk to each other or are forced to sit through poorly-prepared and poorly-conducted leadership meetings 😣. On the other hand, highly-productive leadership meetings will ensure everyone is always on the same page, aligned on goals, and working towards them together 🙌.

How to Prepare for and Run a Leadership Meeting

Now that you know the importance of effective leadership meetings, how can you utilize them in your own organization?

Tips for Preparing for a Leadership Team Meeting

They say you can never be too prepared. The same is true when it comes to meetings. Here are five top tips for prepping for an effective leadership meeting:

  1. Create a context driven leadership meeting agenda 📝. A business meeting agenda is a great tool that ensures your leadership meetings stay on track, run on time, and cover all the necessary topics. However, meeting agendas shouldn’t just be a list of things to discuss—a thoughtful agenda will also give context on why each agenda item is being discussed. In your meeting agenda, be sure to add in as many notes or backup documents as possible so all meeting participants can prepare themselves.

  2. Send the leadership meeting agenda in advance 📧. Once you’ve created your agenda, send it to the other meeting participants for input at least 24 hours in advance. There may be something important that someone else needs to talk about or something you’ve forgotten to add. Plus, by sending the business meeting agenda in advance, you give others a chance to prepare—meaning everyone can make the most of their time.

  3. Prioritize the leadership meeting agenda ⌛. On your agenda, highlight the items that are the highest priority so you can be sure to address them first. This way, if something takes longer than expected, you can leave the less important items for next time instead of pushing back something that needs to be addressed urgently.

  4. Determine the goal of each leadership meeting agenda item 🥅. Make it clear whether each agenda item requires a final decision or if it’s simply open for discussion.

  5. Do your homework 📚. Be sure to block off an adequate amount of prep time for each leadership team meeting. Start thinking about ideas you may have and devote time to necessary research so you can add value and lend expertise to the meeting.

Tips for Running a Leadership Team Meeting

Once you’ve got a plan in place, it’s time to execute it. Here are five top tips for running an effective leadership meeting:

  1. Be respectful of everyone’s time. If you don’t start your meetings on time they likely won’t end on time. This can create a snowball effect and before you know it, the entire day is off schedule. Leaders in any organization are incredibly busy, so it’s important to start and end your meetings on time and be respectful of everyone’s schedule.

  2. Keep it positive 😃. In order for your team meeting to yield positive outcomes and results, you must approach it with a positive attitude. Even if there’s an issue you need to address, don’t be negative about it—have an open discussion and work together to reach a solution. Never bad mouth or make fun of another employee, client, project, or situation.

  3. Eliminate distractions 📵. As a leader with a busy schedule, you certainly don't have time to waste on distractions—like a ringing cell phone or a fellow manager that’s spending the entire meeting scrolling through social media. In order to minimize distractions and keep everyone focused, it’s best to ditch electronic devices in team meetings (unless they’re actually necessary).

  4. Summarize each agenda item after you’ve discussed it 📄. After you go through each agenda item, wrap up what you discussed before moving on to the next thing. Summarize any issues or areas of opportunity that were identified, and confirm the next steps the group has decided to take.

  5. Capture decisions and assign action items ⏭️. You could have the most wildly productive meeting but if you don’t take note of your decisions and next steps, they are likely to get lost in the shuffle and never actually happen. So, be sure to wrap up every leadership team meeting by capturing any decisions and assigning action items to the appropriate people.

5 Leadership Meeting Ideas to Discuss

Here are five management meeting topics and ideas that you may want to implement in your next leadership team meeting:

  1. Get personal 🤝. As leaders, you’re all busy people, which means you may not get the opportunity to talk about something other than work very often. Try dedicating the first couple of minutes in your leadership team meeting to chat as peers, even if it’s something as simple as sharing what everyone did over the weekend. This allows your leadership team to build deeper relationships which can actually lead to higher quality work, plus sets a positive tone for the rest of the meeting.

  2. Review key metrics and goals of the team 📏. The bulk of your time in leadership team meetings is typically dedicated to tracking progress, metrics, and results for various projects and initiatives. This makes it possible to identify whether each team, department, and the organization as a whole is on track to meet its goals so you can course-correct if necessary.

  3. Use the red, yellow, and green method🚦for goal status updates. If you find reviewing key metrics and results to be overly time-consuming or overwhelming, try using the red, yellow, and green method for each agenda item. Are you feeling red (bad), yellow (so-so), or green (good) about hitting a particular goal or benchmark? If the team consensus is green, move onto the next item quickly. If it’s yellow, make a note to come back to that item at the end of the meeting if you have time (and if you don’t, put it at the top of the next meeting’s agenda). If it’s red, you know you need to focus the discussion on that item!

  4. Identify issues and challenges and work to solve them 🙁. When all leaders from various teams and departments come together, it’s a great time to identify issues and roadblocks to success. Then, you can brainstorm and work together to come up with solutions.

  5. Highlight good news and wins 🎉. Leadership team meetings shouldn't be all negative. Try to have each leader bring one “win” from their team or department to the meeting, then end by going around the room so each person can share their win. This makes it possible for leaders to know what exciting things are going on in other areas of the organization, plus wraps up the meeting on a positive note and boosts team morale.

Leadership Meeting Agenda Examples

Here are a few leadership meeting agenda examples for various kinds of meetings. Keep in mind that these are simply outlines meant to be used as a starting point.

“The Quick Meeting”

Duration: 15 minutes or less.

Purpose: Often referred to as a “daily stand up,” the type of meeting is more administrative in nature and is designed to keep the leadership team in sync.

Sample business meeting agenda: Participants will assemble for an informal go around where each person shares:

  • What they worked on yesterday
  • What they plan to work on today
  • If any roadblocks are preventing them from completing those tasks effectively
  • If they’ve made any new learnings or have anything to share that may benefit the rest of the group

“The Weekly Leadership Team Meeting”

Duration: 60-90 minutes.

Purpose: This type of leadership meeting should be routine, and scheduled for the same time and day each week for consistency. The goal is to review what happened last week, discuss any challenges that the organization may be facing, and start planning for the next week. However, it’s important to only focus on a few high-importance issues at a time—don’t lose valuable time talking about less important problems, or think that you’ll be able to discuss and solve everything in just one meeting.

Sample business meeting agenda:

  • Intro to the meeting (5 min)
  • Review numbers and metrics
  • Review goals
  • Highlight company wins and accomplishments
  • Identify top issues
  • Brainstorm ways to tackle top issues
  • Agree on a solution and implementation plan
  • Assign action items
  • Review and confirm actions items
  • Rank meeting and conclude!

“The Quarterly Strategic Meeting”

Duration: 2-6 hours, depending on the size of the leadership team and the organization. You can break this meeting into two separate sessions, or schedule an off-site planning day. This helps you take a step back from the day-to-day operations and eliminate distractions—plus can be used as a leadership team building exercise.

Purpose: The goal of this type of leadership meeting is to review progress on last quarter's goals, adjust processes as needed, and set goals and priorities for the upcoming quarter. Perhaps more importantly, these meetings keep the leadership team connected to the overall direction the organization is trying to move in. This can get fuzzy as the year goes on, so it’s important to be reminded.

Sample business meeting agenda:

  • Welcome and chat as a team to loosen up before the long meeting ahead
  • Go over a high-level review of the leadership meeting agenda and set key goals for the meeting
  • Look back on the last quarter
    • Discuss what went well and why
    • Discuss what didn’t go well and why, and where course corrections could be made going forward
    • Discuss highlights, key learnings, and wins
    • Measure success through metrics and KPIs
    • Identify if goals were met—if not, where can changes or adjustments be made in order to reach them?
  • Take a break
  • Start thinking about plans for the next quarter by asking and discussing questions like:
    • Have any of our organizational goals shifted? If so, what are our new goals going forward?
    • What do we need to adjust in our approach for next quarter based on what we identified that worked well and didn’t previously?
  • Put a strategy in place for the next quarter
    • Define key goals and initiatives
    • Define metrics for meeting them, such as new quarterly targets, KPIs, etc.
    • Define an action plan, which includes who will be carrying out each initiative, who is responsible for tracking progress towards each goals, and timelines
  • Confirm the plan
    • Review key decisions that were made to ensure everyone is on the same page
    • Identify what will be shared with the rest of the organization and how that messaging will be delivered
    • Confirm action items
  • Close the meeting by asking if anyone has any final thoughts, and thanking everyone for their time

Run Leadership Meetings with the Tools You Already Use

One big problem with meetings: there are too many things in too many places. One person scribbles an agenda in a notebook, another takes notes in Google Docs, another shows up totally unprepared because they didn't realize they needed to review something in advance.

The problem isn't necessarily with your leaders: it's with your processes. When you're trying to keep track of action items, agendas, and decisions, it's helpful to keep everything in one place so you can reference the information you need.

You can use a dedicated tool for that, but what's even better: expanding on a tool you already love.

If you spend your workday in Microsoft Teams, Strety is for you.

It’s an all-in-one performance management and people management tool that lives inside of Teams to work where you're already working. Strety brings together all the features you need to become a better leader and run better team meetings 😊!

With Strety, you’ll be able to:

  • Automate scheduling and following up on meetings
  • Run more effective and engaging team meetings
  • Store info about what you need to cover in a leadership meeting agenda
  • Collaborate on team meeting agendas
  • Take meeting notes and add comments
  • Assign post-meeting action items
  • Track progress on action items and goals
  • And much more!

It’s time to say goodbye to unproductive leadership meetings and hello to Strety 👋! Ready to learn more? Contact us today 📞!

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