11/09/2014 07:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Steer Meetings and Interactions (Principle #6)

This blog is about Principle #6 on your way to greater personal effectiveness, 'Steer Meetings and Interactions' originally introduced in the blog 'The 7 Principles of Personal Effectiveness'. It is important that you are working through each of the 7 Principles, and highlighting any point that represents a gap for you, or challenges your current beliefs or practices.

Meetings and interactions consume the bulk of our working day, yet the executives in our research agree most are not a good use of time. There are three types of meetings;
Type 1 - Those you control,
Type 2 - Those you can influence; and
Type 3 - Those you have no control or influence over.

The majority of meetings fall into type 1 or 2, but we often behave like they are Type 3. Implementing the disciplines below will likely eliminate many meetings from your diary, and make the remainder shorter and far more effective.

I. BEFORE you engage in any meeting, you should have clarity on at least four things: the purpose, outcomes, decisions and key questions that need to be answered. You should also have time in advance to read any background material relevant to the meeting outcomes and decisions. Without these basic elements, you are set up for failure before you even begin.
II. Take 3 minutes before critical meetings to plan your impact. Answer the question: "how do I want people to feel at the end of this interaction?"
III. Start every critical meeting reaffirming the purpose, outcomes, decisions and key questions that need to be answered.
IV. Take 3 minutes at the end of each critical meeting to assess the effectiveness of the meeting. Ask everyone for a quick rating out of 10. If you score below 10, ask "what could you do next time to make it more effective?"
V. All of us suffer from confirmation bias (we see and hear what we believe). At the end of every meeting, agree commitments, and ask people what they heard to ensure there is an alignment between your intentions and impact.
VI. Implement the "What/So what/Now what" (situation/meaning/actions) framework in a roughly 15/70/15 ratio so that you are taking targeted actions based on meaningful conversations, rather than frenzied activity based on situational anxiety.
VII. Some leaders' worry that these disciplines could make the workplace too task focused at the expense of people. To the contrary, where these disciplines are applied thoughtfully, there is much more time available for affiliation, social interaction and the building of genuine relationships.

How did you go with this activity? If you are effectively able to 'Steer Meetings and Interactions', my final blog on this subject will help you take the next step with the seventh principle of personal effectiveness; 'Stay on Track Under Pressure'.

For those of you who are interested in some further reading in this field of personal effectiveness, here are the key books and authors that have inspired me;

  • First Things First by Stephen R. Covey

  • Getting Things Done by David Allen

  • Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

  • Man's Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl

  • The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey
  • This was originally posted on