Leadership for meetings

Leadership for meetingsWhat might leadership for meetings look like?

Let’s turn to Harold Jarche for inspiration:

“Those doing the work are often the only ones who really understand the context. Leadership is helping build the structure and then protecting the space to do meaningful work.
Harold Jarche, work in 2018

Build the structure to do meaningful work

Few traditional meetings are built to do meaningful work. Instead, they unconsciously adopt an ancient model: a rote diet of lectures. Conscious meeting design, on the other hand, builds an appropriate structure that supports and leads to defined and desired outcomes, aka meaningful work.

Protect the space to do meaningful work

The old-school status roles baked into traditional meetings minimize useful connection and learning by defining in advance those who have something important to say. This makes it difficult and risky for the audience to share their own expertise and experience for everyone’s benefit.

Asking participants to abide by simple agreements at the start of an event creates a safe environment for learning that makes it easier to risk trying something new. Think of this as protecting the meeting space to do meaningful work.


“Leadership is helping build the structure and then protecting the space to do meaningful work.” When seen through the lens of participant-driven and participation-rich meeting design, I view Harold’s two-part definition as a perfect description of leadership for meetings.

Do your meeting designs truly support participants doing meaningful work? Do you provide leadership for meetings?

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