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When Should Leaders Sit Out of Meetings?

Source | LinkedIn | John Hall | Co-founder at, Strategist, and Keynote Speaker

I’ve never met a business leader who loved meetings, and I doubt I ever will. 

Meetings are tools. They allow teams to talk through strategies, get multiple perspectives, and communicate mission-critical messages. But they don’t bring in revenue, and they certainly aren’t fun to sit through first thing Monday morning. At some level, leaders know that. So why do many of them insist on being part of every conversation their employees have?

When to Lead and When to Leave

Everyone’s time is valuable. But as a leader, your time is at a premium. There is only one of you, and there are certain decisions that only you can make. How can you know whether to spend it in a meeting or on another project?

1. Lead meetings where hiring or firing decisions are made.

Experts disagree on the true cost of a bad hire, but it’s somewhere between five and six figures. Even if the individual you’re considering hiring (or firing) is an office manager, it’s essential that you weigh in. Financially speaking, it’s likely to be the single most important hour of your week. Take care, though, not to dominate meetings about hiring or firing someone. You hired your HR staff and department heads for a reason: They’re experts in what they do. Carefully weigh their input before you make the final decision.

2. Leave meetings held to provide you with a proposal.

Recently, a few of my employees asked me about tweaking our benefits package. Rather than guess at what perks each person wanted, I asked them to talk as a team. Although I sat in the background so I could answer questions, I gave them the floor. You don’t have to flee the office for your workers to have a candid conversation. But if you asked for a proposal, give your team the space to come up with something themselves. They’ll appreciate the trust, and you’ll know their suggestions are genuine.

3. Lead meetings about sales, product, marketing, or recruitment strategy.

It’s not enough for you to send an email explaining your vision for sales, marketing, or your product. For them to execute it the way you would, you have to connect with them on a personal level.

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