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STOP Managing Meetings and START Fostering Inclusion

Diversity. Inclusion. Belonging. These are the ideals many leaders try to inculcate in their organization’s culture. Very few succeed in doing so. Instead, all too often, organizations suffer communication breakdowns, such as individuals speaking over each other or not speaking at all, retreating into silos, and missing opportunities for rich and value-creating collaboration. These behaviors send a signal, often felt most strongly by under-represented minorities and women, that the organization’s culture is not for them. They also precipitate ongoing struggles to attract, promote, and retain diverse team members.


There is no single training or workshop or topic that will wholly change an organization’s culture. In fact, research shows that diversity and inclusion training alone does not change attitudes or behavior, or not by much and not for long.


But there are ways to begin to foster belonging and inclusion in organizations. Situations where employees collaborate together have a significant impact on culture. Perhaps the single most prevalent and consistent place where individuals can either feel included or excluded, able to contribute or expected to remain quiet, is during meetings. And the new science of organizational meetings tells us that managers average around 23 hours per week in meetings!


Meetings are the most common and important settings in which leaders authenticate culture. If diversity, inclusion, belonging and the resulting performance are not at their highest desired levels, then improving the leadership and facilitation of meetings becomes a strategic imperative. This program introduces the theory and practice of FOSTERing inclusive meetings for tackling wicked problems. The program is designed to help leaders develop mastery for ensuring all meeting participants feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued. Mastery of this capability enables all teammates to contribute and be recognized for creating value. Leaders who can deliver these kinds of meetings generate greater productivity from their teams and for their organization.


The program begins by introducing participants to the underlying reasons why inclusion and belonging are lacking in most meetings. It comes down to brain science. That’s right, our brains are designed to jump to solutions, invite decision biases, and solve the wrong problem, especially when the challenges we face are novel and complex (the definition of wicked problems). In meetings, these factors spark fear, anxiety, and threat: raw emotions that undermine the possibility for feelings of inclusion and belonging.


Fortunately, the brain can be influenced by the way in which a meeting is facilitated so that reasoning and executive thinking are in the driver’s seat, not just for an individual, but also for everyone in the meeting. The sources of this influence are the leadership keys to unlocking inclusion and belonging in meetings that enhances value creation capabilities of the team.


While the principles are strategic in nature, translating them into practical application is vital. Therefore, the program supplies detailed and practical steps, techniques, and tips for translating these principles into tangible behaviors during meetings. Mastery of these principles not only helps leaders create the most value out of meetings, but also generates the leadership capabilities most organizations need now.


Typical Program Schedule


Day 1:  (2-hours)  Content delivery

Day 2:  (2-hours)  Content delivery

Day 3:  (2-hours)  Optional simulation experience

Day 16: (1-hour)  First EPC meeting, one for each team

Day 30: (1-hour)  Second EPC meeting, one for each team

Day 44: (1-hour)  First meeting of micro-learning community peer coaching meetings

Day 60: (1/2-hour)  Learning reflection and assessment meetings, one for each team

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