Do I need to attend this meeting?

RAFT Team, March 7, 2023

As a leader in your organization, you have a lot of daily tasks you need to get done and you probably attend a lot of meetings. The question I like to ask myself is: do I need to attend this meeting? 

At RAFT, during our advocate support calls, and during our workshops, we often hear that front-line team members, and even some supervisors, are feeling micro-managed by their supervisors or the organization’s leadership. 

A collection of clock faces, implying that we are thinking about time commitment for meetings and various tasks

One of my big goals as a leader is to limit my micro-management, and let my team develop as leaders themselves. This is a list of questions I ask myself when I see a meeting on the calendar that someone in the organization is already attending, or could attend, and try to decide if I need to be there: 

Do I Need to Attend this Meeting Check List

  1. Will my support at the meeting help the team member? Did they request that I come to the meeting? 
  2. Will my presence at the meeting cause power in that meeting to be shifted away from the team and toward me? 
  3. Will the team member gain confidence or learn something new about themselves if they attend the meeting alone? 
  4. Why am I not trusting the team member to lead the meeting on their own? What training or support can I give them, so I don’t worry about this anymore? 
  5. Will attending the meeting on their own support the team member in improving relationships with the people in the meeting? 
  6. Will attending the meeting alone support the team member in advancing their own skills? 
  7. Does my attending the meeting match our organizational values? My own leadership values? 

Thinking about the benefits I get from not attending the meeting, I ask myself:  

  1. If they attend the meeting on their own, will this open more of my time? More of my time in the future? 
  2. How does not attending the meeting support my day and the work I need to get done? 
  3. How does not attending the meeting affect how I will interact with other people during my day? 
  4. Why do I think I am so important to this meeting? Why am I needed in this meeting more than the person who is already attending? 

Using these questions I have managed to empower my team to achieve more on their own, freed up my time, and become a better, less micro-managing leader.  

Next Steps

Give it a try. The next time you have a meeting on your schedule use these questions, and determine if there is someone else you can empower to attend that meeting instead. Don’t pick the most important meeting of the week! Start small and pick a meeting that feels like it has fewer consequences, then as you use these questions more you can take bigger risks with your decisions on which meetings to attend, and which you can skip. 

Handwritten list of tasks, some crossed out, showing that the writer is busy.

If meetings aren’t your biggest challenge right now, the questions work in many different scenarios. You can use the questions to ask yourself: 

  • Do I need to write this grant? 
  • Do I need to write this report? 
  • Do I need to read this document? 
  • Do I need to review this policy? 
  • Do I need to be the one to make this big decision? 

The more ways you can find to ask these questions and review your overwhelming list of tasks, the more time you can free up, and the more you can support your team members in taking on leadership roles of their own. 

(Important reminder: as you empower your team members to attend these meetings, or lead new tasks and projects, make sure to review the work they are already doing, and take something off their list so you aren’t transferring overwhelm from you to those you lead.) 

With your extra free time, you can spend more time alone. Here are 6 ways alone time makes better leaders.

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