Dear Meeting Guru,

As an introverted person forced to take up a managerial position, I find it unnatural (although I recognize it as necessary) to assert my position during meetings. Any tips on how I can become more imposing?

Anonymous

Blessed Meeter,

Very few of us are natural-born leaders, but luckily we can all learn how to fake it! Being an effective meeting leader is less about asserting your position and more about fostering creativity, encouraging others to pitch ideas and then evaluating each suggestion. Of course, you still need to be assertive when it comes to keeping the meeting on track, finalizing decisions and assigning action items. If the thought of leading a meeting really gets the butterflies going, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself.

One of the best ways to earn the respect of your group is to know what you're doing. People respond better to relaxed, confident leaders. Keeping this in mind, it's a good idea to brush up on your meeting skills. The following article looks at the responsibilities of the meeting leader before, during and after the meeting:
www.effectivemeetings.com/meetingbasics/before.asp

If you're dealing with disruptive participants, it's particularly important to assert your authority (no matter how unnatural it feels to you). The following article identifies some common meeting malcontents, and suggests tactical strategies for how to deal with them:
www.effectivemeetings.com/teams/difficult/malcontents.asp

If your meetings are particularly confrontational, you'll have to take on the role of facilitator. The following article www.effectivemeetings.com/teams/teamwork/creighton.asp looks at how you can use group-process techniques to improve meeting effectiveness. If things get really bad, professional facilitation may be the only option. The following article highlights the who, what, when, where and how of professional facilitation:
www.effectivemeetings.com/teams/difficult/hawkins.asp

The wise philosopher Confucius wrote this quote thousands of years ago, but it's still relevant to effective leadership today:

"If the Superior Man is not 'heavy,' then he will not inspire awe in others. If he is not learned, then he will not be on firm ground. He takes loyalty and good faith to be of primary importance, and has no friends who are not of equal caliber. When he makes a mistake, he doesn't hesitate to correct it."

Assert your authority, but support your opinions with solid research. Treat your team with respect and don't be afraid to admit if you've made a mistake. After all, good leaders take years to reach their peak. Keep learning and improving yourself. Just because you've attained the position of manager, it doesn't mean your education is over.


Until next time… may good meeting karma always be with you.



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