Roles Archive

Host Leadership Hint #4: Listen out! What is your organisation calling for?

One of the six roles of Host Leadership is the Initiator – the person who starts thing off, notices a priority and brings it into focus.  Before you can do that, there is a necessary first step: listen out for what your organisation is calling for. 

  •   What’s coming over the horizon? 
  •   What challenges are starting to appear in the marketplace? 
  •   How are your distribution channels shifting? 
  •   How are people finding out about you? 
  •   How are you tracking your success with customers and user groups? 

It could, of course, be any of these, all of them, or all kinds of other things.  This month’s hint is to listen.  Not rush in. Not jump to a snap decision.  Listen.  Listen to the conversation in the office and outside it.  Listen to what you are hearing on social media. And most importantly listen to your own heart about what’s really important and that you want to take forward.  

Our top tip for this is go somewhere quiet.  Listening is usually best done with a little focus and a little peace.  So why not go out at lunchtime and find a seat someplace, or take a moment on your way into work tomorrow. Take five minutes to see where you are and what’s coming along.  And then park it, store it away, and see what happens next. If it just vanishes, it probably wasn’t that important.  If it stays with you, and you start seeing other signs that this is important, then it probably is.

Listen. Listen again. Then act.

You can find a more detailed exposition of ways to listen for what is being called for in Mark McKergow’s chapter of the Host Leadership Field Book.

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Host Leadership Hint #3: Connect with people at the threshold – even in online meetings

As a host leader, we seek to meet people at the threshold. There is a key moment as people arrive when we want to be in a position to welcome them into the space, say hello, make a direct connection and perhap explain any house rules or routines.  This is in contrast, of course, to the hero leader who keeps themselves hidden away to maintain the mystique, or the old-fashioned teacher who shows up last into the room and expects everyone else to leap to their feet.  

This is true in online meetings as well. In fact, there are all kinds of good reasons to be first online in meetings you are hosting. You get to say hello as people arrive, have a quick catch up, sort out any technical problems and e available for quick exchanges on emerging issues. 

There are two other options, neither of which are as good. You could make everyone wait until you arrive at the appropriate time, which sounds efficient but actually encourages the others to come along late (not wanting to hang around for you).  Or you can allow people to join the meeting without you, and give them a space to talk about you behind your back. (Zoom, for example, has a setting for this in the unlikely event that you want to do it.) 

So be the first person in, and perhaps also the last person out.  People will feel welcomed into your space, and be encouraged to give of their best. 

What are your top tips for getting productive by welcoming people at the threshold online? Please add comments below and we’ll share them (with acknowledgement, of course).

Host Leadership Hint #1: Creating the space in online meetings

This first Host Leadership Hint in our new series comes from Pierluigi Pugliese, co-editor of the Host Leadership Field Book.

Even without giving any credibility to all the people insinuating we’re the whole day in video conferences with no pants on, our communication has undoubtedly become more casual: from the style of clothing we’re wearing while communicating, to the details of our kitchen as our background.

Actually it seems to us that this informality is actually helping business communication become more human. Yes, even the sudden appearance of a child asking his daddy to read a story while daddy is in a very serious management meeting…

Nonetheless, as a host for such a meeting you could (and, I dare say, should!) think of creating a proper space, even with the limited possibilities you have by staying in front of your webcam:

  • Ensure you have a good audio and video: it will help you being understood better by the other, verbally and non
  • If you need an agenda for your meeting, make it visible (shared document, shared screen, …)
  • A space is something for everybody, so invite the others to participate to whatever shared document: share them so they are editable, make them living documents for the whole group
  • Welcome people at the threshold – be there when they arrive: we will have more about the benefits of this in a future hint
  • Help the other participants to solve their connection problems: from bad audio to mute when they are not talking to giving them feedback about their image (for example: if they have a window on their back, chances are their face will be too dark!)

To hear more from Pierluigi, join his 90 minute free online workshop on Wednesday 13 May 2020. Register now!

To get a new Host Leadership Hint every few weeks, register on the front page of hostleadership.com.