Physician leaders often say that one of the biggest differences between practicing medicine and leading a practice, department, or an organization is the way time is spent. Collaboration and teamwork require lots of effective meetings.

A poorly planned meeting is frustrating and feels like like a costly waste of time. But who has time to plan when you are running all day to and from various meetings? Better outcomes of meetings don’t have to take more time. Years of sailing has taught me that what really makes a difference about whether I end up where I want to be and do so smoothly, depends on the rudder on the bottom of the boat, beneath the surface. A clear intention is the rudder of your boat – your meeting –- and it will determine your outcome and the quality of your journey.

Dr. Jane, a busy Chief Medical Officer, takes pride in planning effective meetings. As her responsibilities have expanded, she just doesn’t have as much time. I shared a strategy that has simplified her planning time so much, that she can do it walking down the hall to her next meeting.

Set a Clear Intention Before Each Meeting to Create Better Results.

A clear intention — knowing what you want to achieve – is the make-it- or-break- it factor of where your meeting goes. Keep in mind that it is best to set an intention about what you want, rather than what you don’t want, from the meeting.

Whether you are leading a group meeting or in a one-on- one interaction, take one minute to ask yourself two questions:

  1. What will be most important to this relationship?
  2. If I only get one outcome, what must it be?

Dr. Jane wanted to influencer her boss about an upcoming decision. Being helpful and assuring her loyalty was key to maintaining the relationship with her boss. Dr. Jane defined the success of the meeting as becoming clear about her boss’s needs related to the upcoming decision.

You can’t plan or anticipate what might happen in each interaction. However, your clear intention will keep your focus on your most important outcomes for any interaction. Prioritizing both the relationship and the desired outcomes keeps you on course as an effective leader.

Read more content about communication for impact by clicking here.

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