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Sharing Leadership Responsibilities

Shared leadership is a concept that is key to effective and efficient team process. Simply stated, each and every member of the team has and should take responsibility for leading the team process. It needs to be remembered that in the heat of an important issue that means a lot to you, it will be almost impossible to participate in the discussion and monitor the overall process of the meeting and of other members. To counteract this situation, the team process should incorporate shared leadership which will take the form less involved members helping the more involved members stay "on process" (more on that soon).

During any given portion of the Strategy Planning process there will typically be a couple of team members that are less involved with the issue at hand. These less involved members, should during this time take on the responsibil­ity for assisting the more involved members stick to the team process. In this way the responsibility for managing the meeting time rotates amongst the team members which keeps any one person from dominating the meeting and ultimately assists in working through the agenda in a quicker and more efficient manner.

Team Process

Good meetings, those that have stayed on track, not gone over the time allotted and have succeeded in accomplishing tangible results are a joy to participate in. Experiencing this outcome is really a simple task that hinges on following a few easily define processes. These include the use of a clearly defined process, proposals, process checking and critique.

The rules for good team process are simple and number very few. Have a pre-prepared agenda complete with topics, time allotments and assigned presenters and sticking to it. Items that are not on the agenda but deserve consideration during the meeting should be flagged for attention at the end of the meeting.

All agenda items should have incorporated into them a proposal that is designed to complete the agenda item, Strategic Initiatives leaving it a neatly wrapped up completed package. The proposal process typically goes as follows:

• The proposal is stated by its presenter.
• The presenter follows up with any background infor­mation that is deemed necessary (hopefully, much of this information was published prior to the meeting with the agenda).
• A "poll" is taken with each member choosing to be in agreement, not in agreement or    passing.
• Member passing are asked what further information they need to make a choice and subsequently given that additional information.
• When each member is either for or against the pro­posal, those in the majority try through a questioning process, to determine what those in the minority need to change their view. This continues, hopefully with both sides being willing to give and modify their position until all members have reached a consensus.
• Once consensus has been reached the proposal is either followed (if approved) or not (if not approved).

Process checks are simply what their name would imply. Verbal checks that acknowledge a point in the process that has gone awry. Their purpose is not to ridicule the members who have strayed from the process but to ac­knowledge the deviation and to bring the process back into alignment. Checks to the process should be made as soon as the need arises. Typical things that will deserve a process check include:

• Going over the allotted time on an agenda item.
• Interrupting another members who is speaking.
• Having one or more "side" conversations going on simultaneously.
• Straying from the subject matter of the current agenda.
• Acknowledging someone who is getting a little too personal with their feedback or remarks.
• Not following the rules for running a proposal.
• Breaking or bending any other team agreements that are in force.

Every Strategy Planning meeting should end with a cri­tique by all members. The purpose for this critique is to acknowledge the positives and the negatives that each member experienced during the meeting. Ultimately, acknowledging these experiences creates a open reinforce­ment of what works and what does not work and should be changed. Again, as in all parts of the process to this point, it is the responsibility of each team member to take this information and put it to good use.

Members who critique the meeting should organize their input around those things that helped the meeting and those that hindered the meeting. Critique should stick to observable issues or a persons own feelings. It is not an opportunity to openly judge or belittle fellow team mem­bers. Some examples of typical critique data are:

• It was not helpful that several member were late to the meeting.
• It was helpful that the agenda was out on time and that supporting documentation was provided for each agenda item.
• I felt that you (name of person) took my comment regarding.......... personally, and it wasn't meant that
way at all.
• It was helpful that (name(s) of person(s)) made...........
process checks to help us stay on track during the meeting.
• It was not helpful that several times during the meet­ing we had to stop side conversations.
• It was not helpful that (name of person(s)) left the meeting to take phone calls.

Any points of feedback will ultimately help the meeting process in the future. It should also be noted that even if someone else has already made the points that you wanted to make, doing so again is helpful to show that maybe it wasn't an isolated experience.

Following a predetermined, agreed upon process is neces­sary for having effective and productive meetings in the time allowed. Nothing can and will be more frustrating than spending four hours in a meeting and then leaving it with little or no quantifiable results.

To be continued

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