Updated: Dec 16, 2022
We’ve all been in those meetings where the discussion is dominated by a select few. Inevitably the more forceful team members monopolize the conversation and influence the crucial decisions. After the session there is uneasiness that the agreed-upon direction, though seemingly deliberated, is not best for the team.
For leaders, the opportunity lies in finding a way to engage the quieter, more contemplative team members in decision-making discussions. Unfortunately, those less likely to speak-up often have the best ideas but are reluctant to interrupt or engage with the more forceful team members. The team is missing out if they are not finding a way to capture the thoughts of their reserved team members.
The best ways for a leader to benefit from all team members is to:
Distribute talking points before the session and indicate what decisions are expected (this gives the reserved contributors time to formulate their thoughts and how they’ll articulate them);
Prior to the meeting, encourage all team members to participate in the conversation (this gives the reserved contributors permission to open up);
Curtail the more domineering team members from high-jacking the conversation (this gives the reserved contributors an opportunity to speak);
Before decisions are confirmed, ask all team members individually if they agree or have more to add (this gives the reserved contributors a non-confrontational time to express themselves).
The best leaders find a way to leverage the strengths of team members. The ideas and thoughts of their quieter direct reports may be the most insightful. Empowered teams who get contributions from everyone experience great success.