It was an exciting journey working with new author, Bart Wendell, on his new book. I am very happy to see it come to fruition and caught up with him recently to get an early interview for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!
1. Why did you decide to write this particular book?
I find meetings fascinating and ripe with great possibilities. It’s frustrating to watch potentially great leaders display such incompetence and sap so much energy from their organizations during meetings. Just like parents get practically no preparation for parenting, leaders get no practical preparation for what good leadership looks like in meetings. I felt that the mental road map I use could be very useful.
2. How is this book different from others on the market focused on your area of expertise?
My book answers the question, ‘What does great organizational leadership specifically look like in meetings?
This books is intended to fill a middle ground between books that focus on the basic mechanics of meeting management such as airtime and parking lots, and those that focus on theories of organizational leadership.
3. What are the top three benefits for people reading your book?
- Have a road map to make sense out of bad meetings.
- Understand how to take the steps to save such a bad meeting from itself.
- Better understand themselves and others so that they can use this road map and understanding in time to display leadership before the meeting ends.
4. What one story can you share that is a sort of signature story for your book?
It’s a personal story about how managing temperature can lead to great success as well as crashing failure. I was asked to design and lead a meeting between the presidents and board chairs of the four major organizations in public broadcasting, including PBS and NPR. This had never happened before because of tensions between organizations and between individuals that had built over 35 years. Gathered around the table were a former governor, a former ambassador and so on. I had to bring enough heat, enough drive for results, to the situation to convince these folks that results were possible while also bringing enough cool, enough pausing for perspective and analysis, that worthwhile decisions got made.
The first meeting was a great success in spite of everyone’s doubts coming in and led to regular meetings known as the ‘G-4′. I lead these meetings over a period of years until one particular moment when I failed to summon enough heat to push back on one of the players. He had summarily suggested we no longer needed the ground rules that had been so painstakingly constructed. My failure to do so undermined my leadership and it was the last of that particular series of meetings I was asked to lead.
The book is a lessons’ learned from that and other experiences, told through stories and analysis.
5. What will a reader do differently once he or she has read your book?
The reader will:
- Never take for granted the impact of any meeting on their leadership.
- Know where to place their focus in a meeting that is in trouble, whether they’re in front of the room or simply at the table.
Bart R. Wendell, Ph.D.
Trusted Advisor and Facilitator to Executives and Boards.
Author of ‘Hot Leaders, Cool Facilitators: Learning To Lead One Meeting At A Time’
(NetWorlding Leadership Series: 2010)