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In order for your meetings to move smoothly, get results, and help everyone feel respected, you'll want to have a meeting leader. It's your choice what to call the leader: a coach, a mentor, president, facilitator, whatever title you feel is appropriate. I'll simply refer to this person as the meeting leader. It's the leader's responsibility to make sure that everyone follows the agenda and that the ground rules are respected. They also act as the timekeeper during the meeting. There are a few different ways to choose the meeting leader.
The first and most obvious method is based on position, meaning that whoever is the highest position in the room, whether that's the manager, CEO, project leader, or executive, is the meeting leader. The advantage of this method is that there's already an established structure of reporting and accountability. Also, this method gives the leader a direct opportunity to provide development to the group. The disadvantages of this method are that it may not develop leadership in other members of the group.
Also, sometimes having the highest position as meeting leader may leave other people feeling that the meeting is always controlled or dominated by one person. The second option for choosing the meeting leader is by rotation. This means that the meeting leader is different every time. Any kind of rotation will work, provided it gives each member the opportunity to lead. The advantages to this method is that it gives attendees who aren't normally in leadership positions the opportunity to grow and practice leadership in small ways.
Additionally, if each member of the group has the opportunity to hold others accountable to the ground rules, it often increases their own personal commitment to those rules. And finally, there is a feeling of satisfaction that most people get when they have the opportunity to lead. The disadvantages are that occasionally a leader selected by rotation may not be committed to the ground rules, causing meetings to stray. You may also have people who don't want to lead, perhaps because it's contrary to their personality.
Also, a temporary group leader may not be as prepared as someone who's consistently used to leadership. And finally, in a group meeting people may have the tendency to still look at the person that is normally the leader outside of the group meeting as the person in charge anyway, leaving a leader by rotation in an awkward situation. Some may feel that there is a third option, that is, to have no leader for the meeting. This happens often by accident and usually leads to chaotic, unproductive meetings.
Also, occasionally people are reluctant to take charge of a meeting due to social pressure. They feel that having a leader for the meeting diminishes the role of everyone else in the room. My philosophy on leadership, in any situation, including meetings, is that the leader is the servant. Think of the leader as the helper for the meeting. It's their job to help the meeting be successful. Take a moment, either right now or at the beginning of your next meeting, and determine what method you'll use to make sure that every meeting has a leader.
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