How I changed a team meeting ritual so that I can grow

How I changed a team meeting ritual so that I can grow

Leaders evolve alongside their team's growth.

The more the team adopts behaviours from their leader, the more space the leader has to take on new challenges and explore wider horizons. However, it's only now, when I've pushed myself to expand my scope, that I've learned how to facilitate these changes. I made a plan to clear my calendar and to-do list of tasks that my team can handle by April 1st. This way, starting from that date, I can concentrate on other projects in 2024..

Once you're satisfied with a new process or ceremony that' you got it working well for your team, consider how much it depends on your involvement.

Your target is to lower that involvement to zero.

In a previous article, I shared how I created a ceremony for all Frontend chapter members to openly discuss and improve their frontend expertise and craftsmanship during a weekly "Frontend Open Office Hours". It was all hunky-dory until I realised how much the get-together relied on me to moderate, prepare the agenda, and conduct live presentations. This had to change - the frontends needed to self-organise so that I could step back from managing frontends exclusively and better mind my own development.

Reflecting back to the learnings in group-coaching sessions, I realised I needed to design a role. I called this new role the Frontend Open Office Host. This role would be designed to include all the tasks I was doing:

  1. Gather agenda just before the meeting
    If the host is unable to make a non-empty list of topics, the meeting is skipped until the next week. Cycle repeats.

  2. Launch and Moderate the meeting

  3. Pick the next host!
    This is the part that keeps the ball rolling. Make sure the hosts does this at the 55-minute mark, as some discussion tend to bleed over the time limit. Which is fine, we want people to engage - but we also want all people present when we randomly choose the next host.
    I particularly wanted to make this part fun - we ended up using a randomiser built by one of our frontends, as a frontend challenge - go check it here.

  4. Record the topics & references in our "Frontend Open Office Hours" one-pager.
    Always keep a public track of whom presented what. This helps us to jump back to the past presenters and topics, every time we need to remember something that was presented. It's also useful during mid-year or end-of-year review discussions to recognize those who have made significant contributions. Meeting logs don't lie!

You know what happened? Suddenly, more and more diverse voices began to take the mic. Although the host's role was primarily organizational, to keep administrative responsibilities to one person, almost every time, the host also introduced a topic for discussion. It is true sometimes the meeting got delayed several weeks in a row - don't be shy and throw yourself some log to the fire to keep it running.

This is just an example on how to move the needle towards self-organization - and it won't happen overnight, but the benefits are clear: a more engaged team, a culture of shared responsibility, and the freedom for leaders to explore new horizons. As I reflect on changes like these, I am reminded that the essence of leadership lies in empowering others to grow and lead. True leadership is about the power of letting go, trusting your team, and the incredible outcomes of collective growth.