Because I keep finding occasion to share bits and pieces of this story, I decided to write it up in its entirety.
Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, Executive Vice President and Treasurer of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. was the featured speaker at the Baton Rouge Area Chamber signature speaker luncheon earlier this month.
Ms. Babineaux-Fontenot told the audience she thought for a long time that she was a really great listener. Eventually, she realized that in meetings after the problem was presented, she first gave her thoughts and then started listening to others. Of course, once she shared her opinion no one else really spoke up so there wasn’t much listening to be done. Fortunately, she figured this out (she did mention she has worked with an executive coach) and now in meetings when the issue is posed she is quiet and listens while everyone else shares. Only then does she speak up.
Are you a ‘telling’ or a ‘listening’ leader? Worth some consideration.
She also said that sometimes she will identify a contrarian (devil’s advocate) prior to a meeting and will speak to the person ahead of time asking them to consider the issue to be discussed and the likely decision. Their role is to take up a contrary position and point out the reasons the likely decision is the wrong move. But the twist Ms. Babineaux-Fontenot adds is that she asks the contrarian to be prepared to present other solutions to the issue. By having this devil’s advocate in place, one who comfortably disagrees but also has solutions to offer, she ensures that many angles are considered. I would suspect this has radically changed the meeting culture in her organization and improved the quality of decisions made.
What are you doing to make meetings valuable expenditures of time?
Would love to know your thoughts on this. Share them in the comments section.