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Run a More Effective Executive Meeting as the CEO

How to Run a More Effective Executive Meeting as the CEO of Your Organization

According to a 2018 study by the Harvard Business Review, CEOs of large companies (an average of $13 billion in revenue) attended 37 meetings per week and spent 72% of their total work time in meetings.

When someone gets around to studying 2020-2021, I’ll bet Zoom has pushed those numbers even higher. That is a lot of wasted time if you are not doing meetings right.

And, in my experience, many companies aren’t. After a few minutes of friendly chit-chat, the conversation starts circling a vague objective that’s never discussed in any meaningful way. Nothing gets decided, no one is assigned ownership, and everyone walks out the door muttering about how much time they spend sitting in meetings.

What’s missing is a sense of purpose. Every attendee should sit down at that table with a clear understanding of why they’re present and what the group needs to achieve.

To cut away clutter and increase focus, make your meetings “rapid,” or RPID. This four-part framework will help CEOs create a rigorous, clear, and regular cadence for efficient communication that keeps all levels of the business aligned towards Making BIG Happen.

Here’s what an effective RPID weekly leadership meeting looks like, in 60 minutes or less:

1. Results

Start with a ten-minute review of the Company Dashboard that tracks the metrics that are most critical to your success. Make sure everyone understands where your numbers are and where they should be.

Then, go beyond the dashboard by asking, Why? Why are those KPIs up or down? What actions do you need to take in order to reverse negative trends or accelerate positive ones?

Never settle for the first round of answers. Keep asking Why? until you’ve arrived at the core issues that are affecting your KPIs. Those are the real problems you need to solve, or the real opportunities you should consider devoting more resources to.

If, at your first RPID meeting, you hear more “Uhhs” and “Umms” than substantive analysis, circulate an agenda and some prework for all attendees before next week’s session. It won’t take long for your team to match pace with the meeting rhythm you’re trying to create, which will only improve the quality of your meetings going forward.

2. Progress

Give each leader two or three minutes — at a max — to report on how his or her department is moving these key metrics forward.

Don’t let your leaders recite a to-do list or turn this part of the meeting into a series of long monologues. And keep your own input and any crosstalk to an absolute minimum. At this stage of the meeting, you only want to focus on the progress being made on the leading activities that will lead to the outcomes you want.

3. Issues

Now go around the room and ask each leader if they have any issues they need to address.

Again, no monologues, no lengthy excuses, no finger-pointing, no crosstalk. The objective here is to build an action list, not solve everybody’s problems or take anyone to task for falling short. Let everyone share the surface obstacles that are or could get in the way of achieving your quarterly goals.

4. Discussion

After every leader has raised their issues, take a look at the action list that’s emerged from the previous three steps. Select the one or two most pressing concerns that are directly related to progress on KPIs. Keep the last fourth of the meeting focused exclusively on these topics that need to be discussed right now. A supply chain issue that might cripple this month’s numbers needs to be talked out. A cool new piece of tech that could streamline your supply chain next year should be tabled for a later meeting, along with anything else that isn’t going to start a fire in the next 30 days.

Don’t adjourn until you and your team have:

  • Identified actionable next steps that will resolve key issues.
  • Set a deadline for when those steps need to be executed.
  • Assigned responsibility.

It’s important that the CEO keeps this part of the meeting as positive and constructive as possible. You don’t want your leaders walking out the door feeling like there’s a sword hanging over their heads. You want them to feel empowered to solve problems so that they, in turn, will empower their direct reports to do their best work as well. Instead of blaming or criticizing, ask, What can I do to help? Do you have everything you need to execute this strategy?

Finally, open up the floor to any leader who needs help from someone else on the team to work on a problem that was not discussed. Make plans to tackle that issue at a different meeting.

Keep Meeting and Keep Making BIG Happen

Now, next week, get your leaders back together and do it all over again.

Our top entrepreneur coaching clients use variations of the RPID framework for meetings at every level of the organization. Purposeful daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings all build off of and reinforce each other, creating a culture of accountability whose progress builds all the way to the most important meeting of the year, the annual planning session. Miss any of those drumbeats and the whole rhythm falls apart. But if you commit to a consistent RPID meeting schedule, every minute of those meetings will be time well spent on the way to Making BIG Happen.

To download our Weekly Leadership Meeting Tool and for more on how our proven best practices can transform your company, click here to download our Make BIG happen Tools.  

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average EBITDA CAGR of 53.5% during their time as a client, more than three times the U.S. average, and a revenue CAGR of 26.2%, nearly twice the U.S. average.

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