What Shape Is Your Conference Table?
Astute leaders notice that a meeting held at a rectangular table creates a different discussion than one conducted at a round table. Even when the participants, the agenda, and the topics remain the same, the conversation changes.
The discussion at the round table is typically more informal, more relaxed, and more personal. How can the shape of a table make so much difference?
The physical design of any meeting alters the way in which team members interact with each other. Design influences how people orient and engage.
Eliminate the table altogether and sit in a circle of chairs and observe how the arrangement further amplifies openness and sharing. Go as far as removing shoes and sitting on the floor in a circle, and meeting participants will become super casual and disclosive.
Stand-up meetings (where everyone remains standing for a short meeting) produce quick conversation and less advocacy. Meetings during a restaurant meal create sidebar conversations and an abundance of casual remarks and humor. Hold a discussion while simultaneously while engaging in a group activity, such as cooking a meal or throwing a ball, and it will often produce short contributions of highly candid viewpoints.
Good leaders are always cognizant of how the physical composition and activity in a room will influence discussion. This is not to say most good leaders always design a physical setting to purposely create the quality of discussion they desire. But when the conversation really matters, the design does, too. Thinking about how the physical and activity design might influence the discussion seems like the smart call more often than not.
We know that how we say something shapes the meaning of what we say. Likewise, we know a written message carries more weight than a spoken one and a handwritten message is viewed as more heartfelt than a printed one. Form matters greatly and shapes our experience and the meanings we create together. Considering the physicality of meetings is one more task of exceptional leadership.
Leadership is about what you do. This recent CNN feature is an interview with U.S. Army Colonel Chris Kolenda (Ret) and what he is in the midst of doing to honor the fallen hero’s who served under his command in Afghanistan.
(Click to view)
Kolenda will be our featured keynote speaker at the third annual Admired Leadership Community Conference on October 11th at 11AM ET. The conference is free, virtual and open to everyone. You can register and reserve your spot here.
The Honor Ride will still be in progress. Kolenda will step off his bike to join us with his unique insights on leadership habits and strategies.