A common mistake I’ve seen leaders make is inviting too many people with unequal voices to important meetings. Too many people in the room causes groupthink, everyone feeling pressure to agree and not to stand out as a protestor. And almost every meeting includes people that were asked to attend for the sake of the team member’s feelings; not because they bring real value to the discussion. Everyone in the room knows this and automatically discounts the ideas and suggestions of those people. Ultimately, as the leader, you did not spare the feelings of the team members that received the pity invitations to the table and the meeting goes down as being less effective.
Here are a few rules for all meetings; but especially the most critical meetings:
- Only invite people to the meeting that you feel will advance the cause of the meeting.
- The fewer people in the room, the better.
- If you do ask someone to attend, they deserve the same respect and voice that everyone at the table receives…no more discounting.
- Fight groupthink like the devil it is. Boldly tells teams you’ve invited them because you value what THEY think; not because you want them to validate what you think.
- No silent partners allowed. If you get asked to join the meeting, you have to speak up. A pattern of silence is always taken as a lack of interest or a lack of competence.