Finally it’s your turn at the helm. Prove yourself in the boardroom and you’ve proved yourself fullstop. Allow yourself to be the ringmaster in a cacophony of bad decision making, however, and it’s as though you drilled a hole in the hull of the company ship yourself. The first step is to put that date in your diary and get ready.
1. Before the meeting
Prepare and distribute a concise agenda, complete with brief explanations, if required. Distribute any pertinent reports and material well in advance. This is only good manners. If you have any hopes for outcomes to proposals, put them to the back of your mind. You are directing the meeting, not imposing your presence upon it. You’ll have your chance to put forward any interventions.
2. On the day
Arrive early and make sure everything is ready and working. You’ll look like a cack hand if any hardware is suddenly on the fritz. When the meeting has started and the agenda is underway, stick to it. If you allow a well-prepared agenda to slip away, only to create yet another meeting, you’ll look like a time-waster. You should also keep an eye on the clock, for exactly the same reason.
3. Remember you’re human
A good leader uses his personality, not his authority. You are there to keep the room “connected”. If you get the feeling someone’s not coming forward on an issue, encourage that person to contribute. It could be that person simply agrees with the discussion or you could discover he’s sitting on an alternative strategy that only requires a few minutes’ open discussion to take real form. Remember: you are also there to listen, which is often easier said than done. Start practising now. Be cordial, be tactful, be empathetic and, if it comes naturally, use your sense of humour.
4. No time-wasters
If someone’s deviating wildly from the topic at hand, guide him or her right back to it. If it looks like there’s an argument brewing, use any skills you have to strip the issue back to its bare essentials. A good device to defuse a flare-up can be to repeat the item and objective. Confrontation wastes time, so manage it. If someone in the room tends towards verbosity there’s a good chance they know they have a problem with talking too much, so don’t let them waste gas. “Good point, Bob. [
5. Closing time
As punctually as the meeting started, so too it should end on time. You’ve kept one eye on your watch and now it’s time for a summary. Let there be no confusion about what was discussed and the decisions the board has arrived at. The last thing you need is an inbox full of confused follow-up emails.
Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.