Four Areas Where Senior Leaders Should Focus Their Attention

men-at-table-presentationIt was getting close to lunchtime and the people seated around the table, the CEO and seven of his direct reports, were clearly getting antsy. But it wasn’t because they were hungry. In fact, they’d been eating snacks all morning, mostly out of boredom.

The COO was at the front of the room, talking through slides projected on a screen. The conversation was primarily one-way, with the COO explaining and, when necessary, defending his work.

Finally, when we broke for lunch, the CEO took me aside and told me what we all already knew: “This is a waste of time.”

When you bring a senior leadership group together in a room, it’s a massive commitment of resources. The hotel and food are the least of it. Even the consultant, if you’re using one, is a negligible cost compared to the investment of monopolizing the focus of seven or eight highly compensated, time-starved leaders.

Yet how often do those meetings consist of one presentation after the next, while the executives listen numbly or answer emails under the table? How often does the conversation involve everything but the big issues that need executive attention?

With all that brainpower around the table, the focus of a senior meeting needs to be conversation, controversy, even conflict – not updates. Leaders should never sit and read together. They should be engaging and struggling with the organization’s most critical and difficult-to-solve issues.

So how do you get there? By creating an environment in which leaders are real, vulnerable, and brave with each other. An environment in which they can expose their weaknesses, break through silos, and engage one another with challenging questions, thinking, and decisions.

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Peter Bregman

Peter Bregman

Peter Bregman helps CEOs and their leadership teams break down silos and tackle their most important priorities together. He teaches courageous leadership in an annual Leadership Week. He is the author, most recently, of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, a Wall Street Journal best seller, winner of the Gold Medal from the Axiom Business Book awards, named the best business book of the year on NPR, and selected by Publisher's Weekly and the New York Post as a top 10 business book. He is also the author of Point B: A Short Guide to Leading a Big Change and co-author of five other books. Featured on PBS, ABC and CNN, Peter is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, National Public Radio (NPR), Psychology Today, and CNN as well as a weekly commentator on Fox Business News. Get notified when he writes a new article.

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