Successful hosts guide discussions to involve all viewpoints and make sure group members know they have open-door access.
This doesn’t mean hosts allow endless filibuster conversations in meetings; nor does it encourage aimless wandering into their office to chat away the day.
The Talking Stick.
The Mingwe (Mingo) native peoples of the Appalachian mountains had a wonderful method for insuring every member of the group had an opportunity to participate in meetings and yet no one individual could monopolize the attention.
When matters were of significant importance to require a meeting of the group the host (usually the eldest member of the group) would begin the discussion by holding a symbol of attention (the talking stick). After the purpose and agenda were explained, the stick would be passed along to the next member of the group. This system worked for centuries as an effective way to assure everyone had right to be heard.
The successful host may not feel the need to have the actual symbol present (although I have used it with great success in several crisis scenarios) the philosophy of each individual coming to gather motivated for the common good of all must be maintained. All that is really required is the ability to ask a few prompting questions from each member of the group.
Over the years I have been blessed with the opportunity to participate in trainings from some of the great business and organizational leaders in the U.S. At each training I enter with the same goal, "Find at least one thing this I can take away and put into action immediately." One such training was based on John C. Maxwell’s program. In that training I picked up the following nudge, "Devote 5 minutes of prep time to every minute of face time you request from your leader."
This may sound odd at first. Let’s work it through. Many times I have had an issue that I wanted to bring to my supervisor as an area beyond my control. However, as I sat down to prepare my 5:1 outline I discovered something astounding. When I took the time to deliberately put a name to my concern, followed by an explanation of why it is a concern, and concluding with what I would like my supervisor to do about it I found one of three things typically happened:
One: The act of naming the problem actually gave me the handle I needed to solve it myself.
Two: Explaining why it was a problem resulted in my realization that it actually wasn’t or wouldn’t be for long.
Three: I came to the realization that there was very little my supervisor could do that I couldn’t do myself.
Once you guide your team into adopting this route themselves you will find that your open door is a boost to productive interaction rather than a drag on efficiency.
Leadership hospitality is always enhanced when the principal of equity and accessibility are build into the plan.
Guest Author: Reg Adkins, author of Faith Based Counseling
This is the second article that Reg has generously written for our Talking Story community forum on Ho‘okipa, the Hospitality of Complete Giving. His first was called Hospitality: Our Gatherings Seek to Meet a Need.