when they take something like a 360 assessment, what they find out is that the way they perceive themselves is not the way that the rest of the team is perceiving them. Step one is doing the work of assessing your leadership style and then going from there — not just operating on “Well, I think I do this well,” when in fact you may not do this so well.
Look at more than just attendance I think meeting planners need to pay more attention to what people actually say in the text of their evaluations, because they give you a lot of information that is ignored and overlooked. You can't just be driven by the [attendance] numbers. You've got to be looking at some other things, in terms of the quality of the sessions, what people are saying about the sessions, whether or not you're offering what people want. As flattering as it is as a speaker to be used repeatedly by an association, what I know 22 years into this business is that it's not always a good thing. You need to be introducing new people, new concepts, repeatedly. Or it really does get to be old hat.
Build bridges with your end users If you have good relationships with your end users, you can get them to advocate for you. Let's say you have a meeting that really does add a lot of value to people's bottom line, to their lives, to whatever. They should be your spokesperson — with your CEO, with your senior team — saying, “This is what we got from this meeting. We don't want to see this meeting go away, because we are able to learn X, Y, and Z from it.” But if you are almost just a commodity that just puts together meetings and really hasn't done a good job of building bridges with those people, they're never going to be your advocates.
Understand the generational divide We get confused and think that the style differences are all generationally based. And they're not. I think that the same skills that are required to work with... younger people and older people are required to work with, say, introverts and extroverts. The first thing we've got to be able to do is pay attention to the styles that people demonstrate. Pay attention to more than just the part that gets on your nerves. What are the skills that these different people bring to the workplace? How do they enhance what we do? And having conversations with people about what it is that they need — what I'm seeing time and time again as a consultant is, for some reason, we're reluctant to have those direct conversations about what people need. We're reluctant to really ask people, “What are the things that you really want to get from this experience here?” Some of the reluctance is because, once it's asked, we as leaders are now held to a much higher standard. We've got to deliver.