There must be something wrong with the topic of “leadership”. That’s the only way I can explain it. Scribes have written about it for decades, and managers have long since been sent on mandatory seminars as part of their company’s development program – with the accompanying certificates to show for it. Nevertheless, it seems that many leaders are failing to make significant progress. That, at least, is the perception of the staff they lead, as reported in employee surveys (and by the leaders themselves). Why is that? We have two theses and a solution approach which has a proven track record in our consultancy work.
The number and duration of meetings is a crucial issue in many companies. Bain & Company recently found that employees in US companies are in meetings for 21 of their 40 hours per week – at least 8 of which were completely unnecessary. We believe that this rate is matched or even exceeded in Germany. The impact on productivity is disastrous for all concerned. Ultimately, the work must be done outside of the meeting! There’s also an important psychological effect: Meetings are one of the key factors that demotivate staff.
We experience first-hand with our customers how frustrating such multi-meeting cultures are for participants – from junior staff to top managers. And we understand that it’s not easy to depart from such a system – otherwise it would happen much sooner, more often, and more drastically. But why can’t this meeting mania simply be stopped or abolished?
First the good news: we are all human. And this fact doesn’t alter when we are away from our homes and at work. It’s here, however, that we find the circle that can’t be squared. Many executives and professionals expect everyone at work to simply concentrate on the job at hand – after all, everyone is getting paid to achieve results that contribute to the overall success of the company. While this is true, it is only half the story. If we want to involve our creative and productive energy, then it’s not enough to just use this small piece of the brain. We need our whole body energy, especially our intuition and our heart.