Senior leadership meetings are an important aspect of any organization’s decision-making process. They provide an opportunity for senior leaders to come together and discuss critical issues, set priorities, and make decisions collaboratively. In this article, we will explore the value of weekly senior leadership meeting cadence, what the priorities should be for those meetings, best practices for leading them, and what an effective agenda structure should look like.
Meeting Cadence, The Big Picture
In physics, cadence refers to the rhythm, timing, and tempo of motion or movement. In the context of business meetings, cadence refers to the frequency, duration, and structure of meetings. The power of cadence in business meetings lies in its ability to optimize productivity and efficiency while minimizing wasted time and resources.
Just as in physical activities, the optimal cadence of business meetings is determined by the frequency and duration at which maximum output can be achieved with minimum effort. Regularly scheduled meetings with a consistent structure can help teams stay aligned and focused while reducing the need for ad-hoc meetings or follow-up discussions.
In addition, setting a consistent cadence for meetings can also help reduce the risk of burnout and overload, by allowing teams to plan and manage their workload more effectively. By setting clear expectations for meeting frequency and structure, teams can also help ensure that meetings are focused and productive, with actionable outcomes.
Four Types of Leadership Meetings and Cadence
Patrick Lencioni, author of “Death by Meeting,” recommends four types of meetings that every organization should have to stay productive and efficient.
Firstly, Daily Check-in meetings, a brief (10-15 minute) meeting, often held standing up, where team members share updates and priorities for the day. The goal is to align priorities and ensure everyone is aware of what others are working on that day.
Secondly, Weekly Tactical meetings, a longer (60-90 minute) meeting, where the team discusses progress on projects and issues that require attention. This meeting focuses on solving tactical problems, addressing obstacles, and ensuring accountability relevant for the current week.
Thirdly, Monthly Strategic meetings, a 2-hour meeting to discuss and evaluate progress on longer-term initiatives and strategic priorities. The goal is to align everyone on the organization’s strategic objectives and review progress towards those objectives.
Finally, Quarterly Off-Site Review meetings, a half-day or full-day meeting, held off-site, where the team takes a step back to evaluate progress, discuss big-picture issues, and brainstorm new ideas. These meetings are an opportunity to reflect on progress and make any necessary course corrections to achieve target goals and objectives for the year.
Overall, Lencioni’s principles emphasize the importance of regular, structured meetings that focus on different levels of objectives to ensure alignment, accountability, and progress.
Value of Weekly Senior Leadership Meeting Cadence
Of the four types of meetings, I’ve found the weekly cadence to be the most important for a number of reasons. Research has shown that effective senior leadership meetings can improve team effectiveness, team innovation, and job satisfaction. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found these leadership meetings significantly improve team performance and increase the level of trust between leaders, which is a crucial factor for building a high-performing team. Weekly senior leadership meetings provide a regular forum to discuss, prioritize, track progress, say aligned and make important decisions on the immediate issues facing the organization.
Best Practices for Leading Weekly Senior Leadership Meetings
To ensure that weekly senior leadership meetings are effective, it’s important to be mindful of these best practices:
- Start with a clear purpose – The purpose of the meeting should be clearly stated at the beginning of the agenda, so everyone knows what to expect.
- Prioritize the agenda -The most critical items should be placed at the beginning of the agenda, and less important items should be placed towards the end.
- Provide context – Senior leaders should provide context for each agenda item, including relevant background information, data, and metrics.
- Come prepared – the agenda and required preparation should be shared in advance with each attendee clearly accountable for coming prepared.
- Start and end on a positive note – being in the right state of mind is essential for these meetings to be productive and effective. Set a positive tone for the meeting, encourage participation, and ensure that everyone’s perspective is valued.
- Stay efficient – move discussions offline or to another meeting if 1) it’s not urgent that week, 2) there’s not enough information to take action or 3) others need to be involved.
- Encourage participation – Encourage contribution through discussion and debate, but ensure that the conversation remains focused and productive.
- Ensure accountability – The meeting should end with a summary of key takeaways, action items, and next steps. Senior leaders should follow up after the meeting to ensure that action items are completed, and progress is being made.
- Be patient – if a weekly cadence is new for your leadership team, be patient as you fine-tune the agenda and get everyone disciplined to be maximally efficient and effective.
Example of Weekly Leadership Team Meeting Agenda
A weekly leadership team meeting agenda should be consistent to maintain efficiency. The main purpose of a weekly leadership meeting should be to recognize important progress from week to week, prioritize activities for the coming week and clear the path to get things done. You might also leave room on the agenda to tackle some bigger challenges if time allows. Here’s an example of a good starting agenda for a weekly 60–120-minute leadership meeting, depending on the number of attendees:
- Check-In and Icebreaker (10-15 minutes) – non-work celebrations and general check-in. This allows everyone to get in the right state of mind for a productive meeting and week ahead.
- Big Urgent Announcements (20 minutes) – things that need to be shared with the team and may prompt lots of questions that can be addressed at once, saving time with one-offs.
- Last Week’s Progress (5-8 min per person) – each leader shares progress against the prior week’s priorities. What got done, what didn’t and what did you learn to make this week better?
- This Week’s Priorities (5-8 min per person) – share your top 3-5 biggest priorities/goals for the coming week and what you need from others on the team to get them done.
- Mission Critical Problem Solving & Decision Making (20-30 min) – share the biggest challenges/problems where team input, problem-solving, decision making and action are needed. NOTE: Proper information should be shared in advance of the meeting so there’s enough preparation to avoid wasting time.
- Closing Comments (5-10 minutes) – restate any “parking lot” items and follow-up needed with motivating send-off
What Are You Waiting For
Implementing a weekly senior leadership cadence can be a game-changer for any organization looking to boost its performance. By setting aside regular time for urgent discussions, problem-solving, and alignment, senior leaders can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals. This can lead to faster decision-making, better collaboration, and ultimately, improved business outcomes. Moreover, a weekly cadence helps to create a culture of accountability and transparency, where everyone is empowered to contribute to the success of the company.
So, if you want to take your organization to the next level, consider adopting a weekly senior leadership cadence as a key part of your business strategy. And if you would like some help setting this up or refining your current leadership team meeting cadence, here are two steps you can take right now to move forward.
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