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There have been a number of occasions over the last few weeks where PA’s to a CEO have been unable to find a slot for me because the CEO’s diary was full for the next 6-8 weeks. Now assuming that they are not all part of a conspiracy to avoid me, it has got me wondering if their Board’s know their CEO is meeting-loading and maybe spending too much time glued to a device, presumably then not spending much time being seen by their teams or spending time thinking.

I asked Mark Strom, author of “Lead with Wisdom” what his thoughts were on this topic and this is what he had to say:

“Here are four things CEOs can do to put meetings in their place: (1) empower the team to make decisions that do not need to be in the meeting; (2) turn meetings into conversations; (3) recognise and plan for two kinds of conversation (operational weekly; strategic monthly); (4) build agendas around grounded questions. Together these four shifts build trust, deepen conversational rigour and creativity, and reduce the number of formal meetings. That’s the uncanny outcome: the more we shift to conversation, the less formal meetings we need. And that frees up time for the most important conversations of all: the unplanned, serendipitous chats with people across the organisation in their own workplaces around their own sense of care, craft, community, challenge and creativity. Culture is built by turning engagement upside down: not asking staff to engage in managers’ and CEOs’ slogans, but by CEOs and managers engaging face-to-face in the ways people are and already engaged. Get about, talk less, listen more, learn lots, and encourage most of all.”

So if you are that CEO, is it time to rethink your time allocation and if you are that Board, is it time to ask your CEO what needs to change to get the change?