How Do You Prepare As A Leader?

Do you have a win-win mindset with your team? If you ask them to do something, is it for the good of you, for the good of your team, or is it for the good of both you and the team?

When you arrange meetings with people, either your team, other colleagues, or the senior leaders, how do you prepare? For years when I was in a leadership position, I would mostly just prepare on my own. Or, I would discuss a certain issue with a team member, then I would go and have the meeting.

But, when I was doing that, I was never, ever satisfied with how my meetings went. There was always something that happened that I felt made the meeting unsuccessful, and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

1. The Pre – Meeting

The result of these unsuccessful meetings was, the actions taken from the meeting were either not completed, or were completed to not a very good level.

Then, one day, I was running really late (because I had not prepared well), and I turned up to my meeting totally unprepared. As you can imagine, the meeting did not go well at all. However, I could finally put my finger on why my meetings were not going very well….ME.

I was the reason. My preparation was nowhere near good enough. So, I decided that I would start to have a meeting before the actual meeting. People call it a pre-meet, but to me that is just a catch up, not a meeting. I needed to have an actual meeting before my actual meeting.

So I called mine a pre-meeting, not a pre-meet. This would take up a lot more time and effort on mine, and the team’s behalf but it was worth it. When I started to do this, others followed in my example too, and our meetings were far more successful.

The pre-meeting was especially important if I was trying to gain buy-in from my team or from others during the actual meeting. Having the pre-meeting allowed me to prepare how I was going to get buy-in, and how I was going to increase my influence.

So the influence and buy-in seeds were planted in the pre-meeting, and I could start to gain momentum then, instead of during the actual meeting which would be too late. I needed to build on my momentum from my pre-meeting, not try to begin the momentum during the actual meeting.

This principle is something I definitely want to you to consider doing because it can make you actual meetings become more successful.

2. Gaining The Team’s Buy-in

When having your pre-meetings, always think of a win-win situation for all. The pre-meeting, or indeed the actual meeting is not only so you can have a successful meeting. It is for everyone involved to have a successful meeting.

If you have this mindset during your pre-meeting, then the actual meeting will be a lot easier for you to gain buy-in and increase your influence.

If you do not have your pre-meetings, and do not have a win-win mindset, then your meetings will be just as difficult. They will become a lot more difficult too as you progress in your career.

Having the pre-meeting, and keeping a win-win mindset is another way for you to connect with your people. You are going beyond communicating to connecting because you are willing to put the extra time and effort in with your team to prepare for the actual meeting.

The team will feel this effort from you, and your relationships with each team member will grow stronger. Finding the time to have your pre-meetings is something you will have to plan for, and make time for. Do not say to yourself, “I don’t have the time.” Or, “Where am I going to find the time?”

This will create a negative mindset for yourself, and you will put the pre-meetings off, which will decrease your influence, ruin your preparation, and buy-in will become a lot more difficult.

Most leaders (in fact most people) from all over the world invite people to their meetings from an Email request that goes straight into their diary. A lot of the time, people don’t understand what the meeting is about, or why they have been invited.

But, the meeting request is from their boss, so they have to accept and turn up. What happens then is, the meeting begins, nobody has a clue why they’re there, or what to contribute.

The leader does most of the talking, assigns actions to people, and then everyone walks out. However, when people walk out, they feel uninspired, they feel de-motivated, and most of all they feel disrespected.

3. Planning The Meeting

I understand that leaders are busy, and that everyone else is busy too. But as I said earlier, pre-meetings, and meetings need to be planned for.

We need to find the time for these meetings to make them successful. When we do this, we are showing our people that we respect them. When we don’t we are not showing respect because we are not willing to put in that extra time and effort to help them.

An example of this was when I started to organise my first team meetings. I thought it would be good to have a team meeting so we could discuss issues and see if we could help each other. So, the intention was right, but how I went about it was wrong. Very wrong.

I told my team that we would be having a team meeting…by email. So nobody replied to ask why, or what we would be talking about because I hadn’t spoken to them face to face about it. My email was very vague, and gave just a few details.

I didn’t have an agenda, or any bullet points of topics to discuss. I thought it would be good for all of us to open up. However, as you well now know, if you want a team member to open up, you must build trust, build a relationship, and connect. You cannot do it in a meeting with the whole team.

Anyway, the meeting time came around and I was totally unprepared. How I could have thought I could make this meeting successful without an agenda, topics, or even telling the team a reason is beyond me now.

So, I began the meeting, and I told them why I wanted to call it. I said, “I thought this would be a good chance for us to get to know each other better.” Everybody looked at me blankly, and gave me the impression that they didn’t want to be there at all. Some even laughed at me.

One of the team members said, “Tom, I understand that you want us to get to know each other better, but you could have done it a lot better than this couldn’t you? You haven’t spoken to us, you haven’t told us why you wanted us here, and you haven’t given us anything really to talk about.”

He was right. I was basically “winging it” and the team felt that. They felt disrespected. I didn’t have a pre-meeting with them, and I didn’t connect with them beforehand. I didn’t have a win-win mindset for all. So, I called the meeting off. This was the meeting when I put my finger on why my meetings were unsuccessful.

I turned it around following this meeting because of my pre-meetings.

4. How A Highly Effective Leader Prepares

Highly effective leaders understand the importance of putting in extra effort and investing more time with their people to have a pre-meeting, and then an actual meeting. Highly effective leaders know that this is the only way to make it easier to get buy-in, build trust, and increase their influence.

Highly effective leaders do not send out email meeting requests and then don’t tell anyone what the meeting is about, or why they are invited. Highly effective leaders know that by doing that, it is massively putting themselves in danger of being un-prepared. Highly effective leaders know that by doing that, they are creating distrust.

Highly effective leaders know that by doing that, they are decreasing their influence, and their ability to get buy-n. But, most of all, highly effective leaders know that by doing that, they are disrespecting their people.

Highly effective leaders make it a priority to have a pre-meeting. They deliberately want to keep building on their already strong relationships, and make it even easier for themselves to get buy-in. During the pre-meeting they will set the vision, ask the team open questions, and most of all they will listen 80% of the time.

The pre-meeting adds to the culture and environment of the team and the organisation. It gives people a warm feeling that their leaders are willing to put the extra time and effort in to help them and the organisation to move forward.

How clear is your vision? Can others see it like you can? Being clear on your vision is a huge part of being a highly effective leader.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

22 thoughts on “How Do You Prepare As A Leader?

  1. Hey Tom

    What a fantastic and insightful post!

    You are bang on the money because it makes a difference when people put that little bit extra effort with others. And the importance of building relationships and trust with folk.

    Great work

    Steven

    1. Hi Steven,

      Thank you for your comment and your kind words. It’s great that you found the article helpful.

      You are right, putting in the extra effort, and going that extra mile is what makes the difference. When you do this, your team will notice it too. So, it will be a lot easier for you to build and continue building relationships with your people.

      Keep putting in the effort.

      All the best,

      Tom

  2. You always come up with awesome tips for being a leader, and you know what I find that separates the good leaders from the great leaders is being able to motivate your team day after day. So do you have any tips on this for me and your other readers, I really feel this is the most difficult skill to acquire as a leader, so what is your opinion on this?

    Jeff

  3. Hi Tom,

    What a fantastic information you just shared! It will be useful to use this in my office too.

    Next time, I will be more effective at planning my meeting as a team leader.

    Many Thanks

    Habib

    1. Hi Habib,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article helpful and that you want to take action on what you learning.

      Let me know how you go with taking action. If you need any help or further advice then please don’t hesitate to contact me.

      All the best,

      Tom

  4. Thanks for this insightful and helpful post.

    I agree with you that planning and pre-meeting are very important if we want to have a successful meeting and both parties come out a winner.

    I have fallen into the mistake of scheduling a meeting several times without determining the subject or purpose of the meeting and this has had a very negative impact on the success of these meetings. In some of the cases, the members remain outgoing and are not open up. That requires to make more effort to get them participative and that compromise our leadership.

    You shared your experience where you called a meeting without being very clear in your email about the meeting.
    What I want to know: is inviting the team to a meeting by email that you don’t recommend? or it is the fact that inviting the team by email and not being clear in defining the purpose or why they are invited you don’t recommend.
    In other words, can I invite my team to a meeting by email while being clear about the subject of the meeting?
    Thanks

    1. Hi Sebastian,

      Thank you for your comment and questions. Really pleased you found the article valuable.

      Of course you can invite people to meetings by Email, but most definitely tell them why and what the agenda is, and what they need to do (if anything) before the meeting.

      What I do is invite people to meetings by Email but I would also have a chat with them too, either face to face or by phone. Just so everything is covered and you are certain you have done everything you can do to ensure that the meeting is going to be successful.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  5. Great post! I’m not a leader yet, but I have had experiences in the past with unsuccessful leaders that would call meetings, but not tell us what it was about or hold pre-meetings. I felt a lot of meetings were pointless, and could have been sent via email. I think many people would benefit from reading this! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Melissa,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article helpful.

      Even though you may not be in a leadership position, you can still be a leader. You can influence people just like a leader, and you can prepare like a leader. Keep working on yourself every day and you will eventually become a highly effective leader.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  6. Hi Tom,

    I totally agree, I always thought it was extremely important that everyone knew exactly why a meeting was required, and what it would be about.

    In my mind, this gave myself and the team an opportunity to prepare, thus ensuring that everything ran smoothly, and above all the meeting was productive.

    I cannot even begin to tell you how many unproductive meetings I have been a part of, typically being none the wiser post-meeting than I was beforehand.

    Great stuff as always Tom.

    Thanks
    Partha

    1. Hi Partha,

      Thank you for your comment and kind words. I’m really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      Meetings are a lot more important than people think as it is the opportunity to do or plan or discuss something amazing. Surrounding yourself with the right people in a meeting can be really helpful. As you say, the amount of rubbish meetings I have attended are too many to count.

      Learning from those meeting mistakes has really helped me. Hopefully a lot more can learn from their meeting mistakes too.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  7. Thanks for sharing your experience. Couldn’t agree more that pre-meeting preparations are crucial. I,too commit the same mistakes of not preparing in advance. Guess what, meetings which can be accomplished in 30 minutes dragged on to a couple of hours.

    1. Hi Kenny,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article helpful.

      Thanks for sharing your experience with meetings as they are valuable to other readers who also have had similar experiences. You now know what to do to have a pre-meeting.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

    1. Hi Christy,

      Thank you for your comment. Really pleased you found the article fantastic.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  8. Hi Tom, this is a very great article on being highly effective as a leader. I’ve been in a leadership role before and I had no clue how to properly conduct meetings. If I had known these principles you mentioned in the article, then I would have been more successful at it. This is the first I’m hearing about pre-meetings

    When is the ideal time to conduct a pre-meeting?

    Thank you for sharing this in-depth article, and I’ll definitely implement these tips the next time I conduct meetings.

    Blessings and Gratitude
    Mikhail

    1. Hi Mikhail,

      Thank you for your comment and question. Really pleased that you found the article valuable.

      The best time I found to conduct a pre-meeting was at least two days before the meeting, then we had plenty of time to prepare following the pre-meeting.

      Try out your own times and see what works best for you.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  9. Thank you so much for this highly informative article, Tom! I have been in leadership positions as well, and the best way to be an effective leader and maintain your credibility is to prepare, make sure that all parties benefit from your proposals (always anticipate potential arguments), always provide physical handouts of your business plan (for closer analysis and, possibly, scrutiny), and always be open to constructive criticism. I have worked for bosses who never thought that they could do wrong, never looked out for the team, and lost valuable employees as a result of it. No one is too big to hear others’ ideas. As the saying goes, “teamwork is dreamwork.” God bless you!

    1. Hi C.N.

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you found the article valuable.

      Thanks for sharing your experience as a leader and how you prepared for your meetings. This will help the readers too.

      Teamwork definitely does make the dream work. You are right about that.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

  10. Hi Tom,

    That is a very informative article and I relate with it. Preparing well as a leader is the key to great success in your team.

    All the best

    1. Hi James,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great that you can relate to the article.

      You are right, preparation is essential when it comes to leading your team to success. If we don’t prepare well then we are “winging it” and the team will notice this.

      Keep returning, keep engaging and keep leading.

      All the best,

      Tom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *