You’ve invested thousands of hours that you’ll never get back in contentious, mind-numbing meetings with nothing to show for it but a demotivated team.

When was the last time you held a meeting that unleashed a burst of energy and propelled your team to new heights of collaboration and creativity? A meeting that generated momentum that pushed them beyond the expected?

If your answer is NEVER, it’s time you figured out how to forever end the meeting monotony that lulls your team into a listless state of going through the motions.

The smartest leaders do these four things to cut through the boredom and get everyone engaged, motivated, and inspired.

Do Decide on the Outcome First

Pre-plan your meeting, with the help of technology, to get the team to agree on where it is ultimately headed — even when you don’t all agree on the nitty-gritty of how to get there. Ask everyone to respond to the meeting invite with the following two things: what they want the ultimate outcome of the meeting to be, and what will give the team the best chance of attaining it. Collect all the responses and make the options visible to all. Encourage debate to take place ahead of time and settle on the focus before the meeting date arrives. This way everyone arrives informed, enthused, and ready to discuss a strategy for attaining your goal.

Do Know the Rules

It’s easy to be blindsided by disagreements that arise during meetings. Create transparent rules for handling the conflicts that arise so that the meeting doesn’t get hijacked by fights over small details. A few essentials to get you started:

  • Common
    focus — the success of everyone involved.
  • Respect
    for each other regardless of title or position.
  • Free
    expression of perspectives, views, and beliefs, especially when they
    highlight flaws and assumptions.
  • No
    one sits on the sidelines — active solicitation of participation.
  • Recognition
    and support of the role of the ultimate decision maker.
  • Agreement
    to support the final decision once it is made.

Do Be a Pushover

Know when to step back. Give others a chance to plan and lead team meetings. They’ll gain an appreciation for what it takes to structure and lead a discussion, encourage teammates to be more creative, facilitate dialogue and debate, and maintain momentum. It also helps them develop skills they’ll need in the future.

Do Sweat the Details

Switch up the venue, length, format, and attendees of your meetings, or get people to assume different roles. Ask team members to serve as the meeting manager, devil’s advocate, solicitor of others’ points of view, and so on. This type of disruption challenges the status quo that leads to groupthink and reinvigorates the discussion, causing the various players to pause, think, and respond more intelligently.

Putting these strategies into practice will feel uncomfortable at first. Change is always a challenge. However, in the long run, changing the direction of your next meeting will leverage the differences, bonds, and insights of the brilliant minds in the room, and most of all will shape your team’s impression of you as their leader.


  • Susan Gilell-Stuy, PCC

    Executive Leadership Development Coach and Consultant - Trusted Advisor to the Next Generation of Leaders

    Susan Gilell-Stuy is a top-tier corporate executive coach and consultant. For more than a decade under Susan’s guidance, executives and leaders unlock the distinct abilities and skills that will lead to brilliant success that perfectly suits them. Susan draws her on deep experience in evidence-based predictors of executive success, leadership development, conflict management, emotional intelligence, and stakeholder-centered coaching as she serves as a kind of alchemist, taking people’s most difficult leadership problems and turning them into gold. She is an executive coach for The Wharton School - University of Pennsylvania. Her comprehensive training includes a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching from the University of Texas Naveen Jindal School of Management and a B.A. in Psychology from St. John’s University. Susan holds a PCC level credential from the International Coach Federation. If you're wondering what your sweet spot is as a leader reach out to Susan at [email protected] and take the opportunity to get to know each other, and talk about what you’re looking to accomplish together.