What are leadership meetings and why are they important?
A leadership meeting is a meeting that involves upper level employees in your company. This might include just C-level employees, such as the CEO, CFO and COO, or you might invite everyone in your management hierarchy, such as branch and department managers. The goal of leadership meetings is to impart information your managers need to know to make key decisions or run their departments.
The people who lead specific teams in your organization often focus on their areas of immediate concern and may not know what’s going on in other parts of the company. Leadership meetings give managers a better understanding of what’s happening all across the company, which can help prevent conflicts between departments.
Management meetings are also a good opportunity to build relationships between managers in different departments. Creating an atmosphere of trust and cooperating between managers helps ensure that your leadership team is working together toward the company’s overall goals. You can also use management meetings to help build leadership skills in new managers.
How to prepare for a leadership meeting
Preparing for management meetings involves setting a specific agenda and letting everyone know when and where to show up for the meeting. Here’s a list of the specific things you need to do before your leadership meeting so everything runs smoothly:
Determine who needs to attend
Keep in mind that meetings with more than eight to ten people may be less productive than meetings with smaller groups. Depending on the size of your company, you might need to hold a top-level leadership meeting and then rely on each departmental head to hold separate leadership meetings with the branch managers or team supervisors in their department.
Develop a clear meeting agenda
Your agenda should include a list of topics you plan to cover during the meeting and a brief summary of why each agenda item is important to the management team’s overall goals. Prioritize the agenda items so participants know which items are most important to address during the meeting and which might be shelved until later if you run out of time.
Send a copy of your meeting agenda to all participants in advance
Try to get the agenda sent out at least 24 hours in advance so attendees can make suggestions or ask for additional discussion topics if necessary. Follow up to make sure each attendee has seen the agenda and knows the timeline for any requested changes.
Do research before the meeting
You want to come into the management meeting prepared to discuss every item on the agenda in depth. Brainstorm ideas or collect data about specific topics before the meeting so you have things to reference once you’re there. Share any necessary context with meeting participants before the actual meeting so everyone can get to work finding solutions instead of wasting valuable time on basic explanations of how each department works.
Plan ways to track action items after your meeting
One major reason to have management meetings is to make sure every department is accomplishing necessary tasks to meet the overall company goals. You can set up software to track completed action items after your meeting for accountability between meetings.
Develop a consistent leadership meeting schedule
Instead of planning the next meeting at the end of the latest one, develop a meeting schedule for the same day and time each week or month. Having specific planned meeting dates helps reduce confusion, and regular meetings help managers schedule other tasks, goals and activities around the meeting schedule instead of having to rearrange things at the last minute.
How to run management meetings
Managing your leadership meeting involves staying focused on the meeting goals and avoiding unnecessary tangents. Once your team has arrived at the leadership meeting, keep things moving by following the agenda you’ve developed and giving everyone time to weigh in on important topics. Some ways to help make your management meeting successful include:
Have clearly defined end goals for the meeting
Whether you’re trying to determine the next steps for the company, build rapport between departmental managers or realign each department with your overall business objectives, decide exactly why you’re having the leadership meeting before it begins. This helps you return the focus to that end goal if things get off track.
Focus on strategy issues
Leadership meetings should be focused on the big picture, so develop your meeting agenda with this in mind. Small-scale issues should be left off the agenda or given minimal time during the meeting so you can tackle topics that affect the long-term value of the company. It’s better to spend time discussing issues such as mergers, a shift in direction for marketing or expansion strategies instead of the company holiday party or how to more efficiently stock the break room.
Maintain a positive tone
Avoid negativity and complaints during the meeting and instead turn discussions toward positive solutions. If seemingly intractable problems come up during the meeting, you may need to table further discussion until the next meeting to give everyone time to brainstorm solutions instead of rehashing the problem.
Stick to the schedule
Respect your leadership team by starting and ending the meeting on time. Your team likely has other things to do and sticking to a specific timeline makes it easier for everyone to work around other job duties.
Ask meeting participants to silence or turn off electronic devices, such as phones, during the meeting. Reducing interruptions makes it easier to stick to the schedule you’ve set and keeps everyone on task.
Set up a system for recording meeting information
Whether you assign one participant the task of taking notes during the meeting or record the entire meeting on audio or video, you should have some way for attendees to look back over what was discussed after the meeting has ended.
Tackle each agenda item independently
Finish your discussion about each item and assign any action items to team members as needed before moving on to the next topic.
Send a follow-up email
After the meeting, send an email to the participants summarizing what was discussed and any decisions that were made. Give participants a reminder for the next meeting and any for any project deadlines that were finalized during the meeting. Also ask for feedback in your follow-up message to help you plan for the next meeting.
Ideas for leadership meeting topics
Your agenda defines the scope of the meeting. When you’re deciding what to put on the agenda, here are some specific management meeting topics you might want to include:
The overall goals of the company
Before you start discussing specific projects and milestones for various teams or departments, take time to talk about the overreaching company goals everyone should be working toward.
Share important updates
Give the leader of each department time to present important news and how that department has been meeting goals so everyone has an overview of each area in the company. This can help prevent silos from forming within your organization by keeping communication open between departments.
Roadblocks and problems
If specific leaders on your team are having trouble meeting goals or determining their next steps, the time dedicated for this agenda item lets everyone brainstorm possible solutions together.
Successes and accolades
Celebrating successes helps boost motivation for your leadership team. Set aside a specific time during your meeting to publicly acknowledge recent good news from each department. Attendees should each get a chance to talk about something that their department has done well, such as completing a project or meeting a specific milestone, so everyone can share in the success.
Leadership meeting agenda examples
The agenda and timeline for your meeting depends on the size and scope of the meeting. A quick weekly meeting between top-level management might only require 15 minutes while a larger quarterly meeting of all department heads could last an hour or more. Here are some sample meeting agendas you might use as a guide:
Quick update management meeting
Short management meetings can be less formal than longer ones. You might start with a quick introduction from the person running the meeting and then go around the table to let everyone have a turn sharing information about their departments. In a quick round-robin style discussion, participants can discuss:
- What they’ve been working on this week
- Plans for the next week
- Problems or roadblocks that they have recently encountered
- New insights they want to share with the other members of the leadership team
Quarterly leadership meeting
A multi-hour leadership meeting of all major department heads might have a leadership meeting agenda that includes the following:
- Pre-meeting chat time to let participants socialize before the meeting
- Welcome statements from top leadership
- An overview of the last quarter, including highlights, roadblocks encountered, success metrics and whether goals were met during this period
- Short check ins from each department head giving a concise overview of how that department is doing
- Lunch or coffee break for participants
- Discussion of the next quarter’s plans, including any changes in company goals or things that need to change based on the prior quarter’s results
- Strategizing for the next quarter, taking into account any new goals or initiatives and what metrics will be used to assess goals at the end of the quarter
- Assigning action plan items to specific team members and departments
- Review of the plans for next quarter and how to share information with other employees in each department
- Final words from the CEO
Leadership meeting FAQs:
How often should you hold leadership meetings?
Leadership meetings involving the entire leadership team should be held annually and quarterly at minimum. Many companies also hold shorter weekly or monthly management meetings with just the corporate executives or senior department heads.
How long are leadership meetings?
The length of a leadership meeting depends on the scope and who is invited. Large leadership meetings in a corporate environment can last 2 to 6 hours, while short weekly meetings may be 15 to 30 minutes. A leadership meeting should be as long as needed to get the essential information across to your management team.
How do I run a leadership meeting virtually?
Virtual meetings can have the same scope and agenda as in-person leadership meetings. The main difference is that you need to choose a technology and make sure everyone on the team knows how to use it before the meeting begins. You should also aim to keep each topic on the virtual meeting agenda short and stick to a strict time schedule to ensure everything is covered.