At most colleges and universities, summer offers a blessed break from the regular meetings of the academic year. It’s a relief to have a few months’ free from having to jockey for air time, listen to long-winded people opine on matters they know little about, navigate petty factional skirmishes, or shore up colleagues whose ideas are routinely shot down.
Now that it’s September, the prospect of returning to meeting-heavy days may seem enervating. But what if we made 2019-20 the year in which we change the traditional dynamics of our meetings? Could we find ways to make them more productive, less contentious, and more open to voices that usually get muffled or silenced?
Amplifying diverse voices is a not a radical idea — it is, after all, a fundamental way that good leaders make people feel included. But giving others a voice does more than foster a sense of belonging: It leads to greater innovation and more strategic decision making. When the usual suspects do all the talking and the loudest voices drive all the conversations, we miss opportunities to consider better options.