A friend and I were talking the other day about how much we hate meetings. Most of you are probably thinking, “If she’s retired, what does she know about meetings anymore?” Unfortunately, meetings and telecoms seem to have followed me into all my volunteer jobs as well. Never thought I’d use those two words in the same sentence.
It made me think back to a training video I saw many years ago when I taught Airman Leadership School with John Cleese titled, “Meetings, Bloody Meetings.” It was a comical take on ineffective meetings (since many of them go on much longer than necessary). Yet in the end, John supported the use of meetings as the best way of communicating information within any organization, volunteer or otherwise—when properly planned and organized, of course.
Many of us hate meetings; especially if they occur more often than we think they should—these days, that’s twice in one week for me. And yet, most of us also hate to be out of the loop and complain if something happens because we didn’t have the critical information needed to make the right decisions. In all my years in the military, I learned that one of the most difficult things for any leader to achieve is clear, consistent lines of communication—someone always gets left out of the loop.”
We often get frustrated over too many meetings, or when working with someone whose leadership style is completely different from our own. Yet we need to remember that whether we’re getting paid or doing something voluntarily, we need to keep focused on the mission—not our own agendas. … We need to stop trying to impress people others. Instead, we should always work toward what is best for the team. When we stop focusing on our own agendas, we have time to take an interest in others ideas too.
So the next time I start to grumble about another bloody meeting, I just need to recognize that it is a necessary burden we must all bear to ensure open lines of communication as team members’ work toward a common goal.
Boots on the Ground, National Military Advisor