These last weeks I’ve been attending a few meetings where participants were generous in sharing rich ideas. One could have thought that the liveliness of the meeting showed membership engagement and satisfaction.
Taking a closer look, things looked different.
While participants were contributing a vast number of valuable ideas there was no space to collect them.
Based on a broad description of the task, participants felt invited to contribute whatever it was that came to mind. They were focusing on what it was they wanted to talk about and gave priority to.
For some it was to discuss the content of the project, for others it was the quest to understand the reasoning behind the project, for others it was the expected benefits, and yet another group was wondering about the project’s implementation.
Collecting all this information certainly was useful, however, it also showed, that the group was relying on the leader to make up his mind based on their information.
The group was avoiding the opportunity to establish a constructive dialogue. They were actively avoiding stepping into the task. Agitated as the groups were, it was their uncertainty about the task at hand that was emerging.
The leader had two options. He could choose to take in all the information that was shared with him and solve the problem on his own. Or, he could choose to slow down the meeting and take a step back to check in with the group. It is by listening closely to what the members were sharing, and where emotions were showing up that the group would feel enabled to give a name to their agitation. Being able to express and let go of their concerns is the condition for a group to step up and execute the task. Everything else is preparation and getting accustomed to the task.
It is by stepping back and slowing down that the group can gain speed and deliver.