Ever wondered how CEOs manage to accomplish so much in 24 hours whereas we struggle to accommodate everything? From meetings to strategy building, they usually have it all, planned out by the minute. Perhaps they attend way more meetings in a day than we do in a week. Data reveals that companies spend around $37 billion on meetings every year in US alone, and managers attend more than 60 meetings per month. (Source: A network MCI Conferencing White Paper. Meetings in America: A study of trends, costs and attitudes toward business travel, teleconferencing, and their impact on productivity (Greenwich, CT: INFOCOMM, 1998)
What’s more important than meetings is conducting effective meetings. Fast paced decision making using shorter and fewer meetings is the success mantra for many small companies. On the other hand, larger organizations tend to get plagued by bureaucratic processes and many pointless meetings that result in few concrete conversations. A look into the working style of top CEOs and leaders reveal that all of them insisted on making meetings count.
Here we take a look at smart meeting styles of world’s best leaders from top companies.
1) Steve Jobs, Apple :
The undisputed stalwart of minimalism, Jobs applied the same principles to his meetings as well. Top three from the Apple stable include :
- Only people who are absolutely needed attend the meeting.
- No meeting should last more than 30 minutes. If the agenda is not completed in this time, it’s probably a drag.
- Add a productive task to your day to make up for the time spent in meetings.
2) Larry Page, Alphabet (previously Google) :
When Larry Page took over as Google’s CEO in 2011, his first action was to send out the famous company wide email “How to run meetings effectively”. Key pointers from it:
- Every meeting must have one decision maker at least
- No more than 10 people should attend. Amazon Chief Jeff Bezos famously said : “Don’t plan a meeting in which two pizzas aren’t enough to feed everyone.”
- Decisions shouldn’t be dependent on meetings. Meetings should be scheduled immediately when a decision needs to be made
3) Sundar Pichai,Google :
Sundar Pichai’s rise to the CEO of Google isn’t a miracle. Industry insiders reveal that Pichai is a taskmaster and patient listener, who rarely interjects people in meetings. Once everyone is done putting their points forward, he delivers an idea that works for all. He is incredibly good at diplomacy and avoiding conflicts; as he believes that time spent in resolving conflicts can be put to better use.
4) Alfred Sloan,General Motors :
America’s original CEO and legendary organizational thinker, Sloan would announce the meeting agenda, listen to varying views quietly, and followed up with a detailed memo and action items. He would then keep a track of the execution and measure progress from each meeting.
5) Sheryl Sandberg,Facebook :
One of this generation’s most feminist leaders, Sandberg belongs to the same school of thought as Sloan. Her top goals include : Ruthless prioritisation and female participation. She carries a spiral notebook with strict agenda and action items for each meeting. As the meeting proceeds, she ticks off each item. If all items are checked off in the first 10 minutes of an hour long meeting, it gets over.
6) Marissa Mayer,Yahoo :
Yahoo’s CEO strongly believes in the tenet of preparation. She never goes to a meeting without solid preparation and being extremely thorough with the agenda, and background information of the people she’s meeting.
The meeting best practices adopted by these inspiring leaders underline the importance of:
- Setting effective meetings with strict agenda
- Inviting only those people who can be contributors
- Ending a meeting with a list of action items
- Measuring progress