All meetings start with the best of intentions. No-one shows up to a meeting with the intent of wasting their time or the time of their colleagues. No-one shows up wanting to lose their temper, to become disengaged or frustrated but it happens. When meetings get off track there are usually warning signs that instead of heeding we ignore and plow on through. It seems tough to step in front of a derailed meeting but it will save time and energy in the long run to take positive action in the moment.


Warning Signs

  • Debate devolves into disagreement and rhetoric escalates
  • Your emotions are increasingly negative
  • The purpose for which you attended the meeting changes
  • You “know” with certainty this isn’t going to finish with you achieving your goals for the meeting
  • You exempt yourself from the meeting. “I’m done.”
  • You find yourself avoiding meetings and interactions with certain people
  • You energy level and passion begin to wane
  • You know that there are underlying issues in the meeting not being addressed but which are driving personal agendas
  • The meeting has devolved to dealing with a level of detail and minutia that doesn’t contribute to achieving the desired outcome of the meeting.

Situations and Actions

During the course of a meeting that gets off track there are a number of common situations that occur that if dealt with can get the meeting back on track and minimize the waste of time and resources. Warning Signs show up generally as a result of one of the following situations occurring. To keep the conversation moving forward and creating value in most situations it is simply a matter of asking the right question. Plan to ask these questions when the following situations arise.

SITUATION – we keep talking about issues and problems but no solutions are in sight.

ACTION – call what you see. Ask, “What are we trying to solve for?”  Put a time frame on further discussion. Call for the question. If still not resolved revisit the purpose of meeting.

SITUATION – persistent objection without offering solutions.

ACTION – “I understand that you disagree. What would you support?”

SITUATION – deep into minutia

ACTION – “What are we trying to solve for with this conversation? Are we dealing with the right issue?”

SITUATION – confused about how we reach a conclusion.

ACTION – “What do you need from me? Here’s what I know I need from you.”

SITUATION – a group member is demonstrating visible emotion.

ACTION – “What do you see as a problem? What do you think we are missing here?”

There are some situations that require action and discussion beyond a simple question. Here is how you might agree to deal with those.

SITUATION – junior/subordinate members of the team, guests, client groups or clients are present.

ACTION – “We seem to be getting off-track. Let’s take a break and regroup in 10 minutes.” Key members of the management team stay and decide what to do. When the group returns in 10 minutes the meeting will generally be rescheduled.

SITUATION – it becomes clear that not all participants are up-to-speed and are asking questions that is dramatically slowing down the meeting or causing the purpose of the meeting to shift.

ACTION – call what you see. Ask if the concerns can be handled off-line. If not, reschedule the topic at a time after the bases have been covered. Once it is called allow 5 minutes tops. If agreement hasn’t been reached and you are not back on the agenda, call it again.

SITUATION – the agenda is high jacked because the topic is more complex than anticipated.

ACTION – offer up where you think there is agreement and ring-fence what is left.



I read a recent HBR blog by Scott Edinger, putting forward a strong argument that workers who work remotely are more productive than those who work in a traditional office environment with the boss at hand. Many of the client organizations we work with struggle with whether to encourage employees to work remotely, turn a blind eye when they do or insist that if you are a full time employee that means being present in an office full time.

If this is something you are struggling with you might find the article instructive. Edinger supports his argument on the following points:


Proximity breeds complacency. People take for granted the opportunity proximity presents and frequently long periods of time can pass before a boss and subordinate have a meaningful conversation and more often than not the default method of communication is still email.

Absence makes people try harder to connect. As connection has to be planned and intentional greater effort goes into making space and time for those connections and time is used more wisely.

Leaders of virtual teams make a better use of tools. More so than their traditional counterparts leaders of virtual team use a broader range of technical solutions and tools to enhance their connection with their teams.

Leaders of far-flung teams maximize the time their teams spend together. When time is viewed as a precious commodity because you might not be together for another month or several months that time is usually well planned for both practical business applications and also often contains a social focus allowing for comfortable networking and building more personal relationships.

So if you are struggling with whether or not to expand the opportunities for people to work remotely or are concerned about productivity and value of having workers remotely Edinger’s blog gives food for thought.

Unless you are focused on making intentional connections, being disciplined about how you plan and use the time when you are together and explore technological options for improving those connections it probably won’t be to your advantage. However, with more and more employees entering the workforce who would rather choose where they live over where the work might be, being open to remote workers expands your choice as an employer and may improve your team’s productivity.

For the full blog and more information check out:

Linda Adams -


When do You Find Your Passion and Meet Your Greater Purpose?

I’ve had four separate discussions in the last two weeks with colleagues and clients who are at a point in their professional lives where they are pausing to consider what may be their passion about work. I was struck by the fact that we so often get on a set of railroad tracks and we trundle on down until we come to a set of points where we have the opportunity to move in another direction. The question is what do we do when we reach that cross roads?

I was asked if we don’t know the cross roads actually existed until we can see it in the rear view mirror. After I thought about that I really don’t believe that to be true. I believe what happens is that we reach that point and it is easier to continue down the track we started on and not risk going off to what we worry might be a dead-end or take us to an uncertain destination.

For many of us we get on the railroad tracks in College. We may not be sure what we want to do or what our real passion is so...

  • We do what we “should” do even if is not something to which we are drawn
  • We look for experiences to support what we are doing
  • We look for a career or work in that field
  • We become really good at doing it
  • We look for more and more opportunities to do more of it at higher and more demanding levels
  • Life may be pretty rewarding but are we really fulfilled?

At some time life will provide you the opportunity to pause, to consider what would really bring you value and tie to your greater purpose. What will you do with that moment? To move closer to work in the space that is your passion you must...

  • Define and seek to do what you love and find meaningful
  • Build experience doing what you love
  • Become really good at doing it
  • Look for more opportunities to do more
  • Live a life full of purpose and meaning


When your career offers you a chance to PAUSE, give yourself the gift of considering if now is the time to reach for your greater purpose? Jim Collins talks about the highest purpose being the perfect intersection of our passion – what we love to do, our innate talent – what we are born to do and to combine this with the ability to earn a living.

Regardless of the decision you make – to stay the course or take a leap – have it be a decision made with intention and not by accident. Life is too short to live someone else’s ideal of why you are here and what you might be capable of doing.

Linda Adams -


You wonder why you aren’t getting the best thinking out of your leaders?

At a recent meeting of 160 Banking Leaders they were asked a series of questions about how they manage their energy. The results might surprise and scare you.

77% said they had trouble focusing on one thing at a time and felt easily distracted during the day.

80% said they take too little time to think strategically and creatively, and spend too much of their time reacting to immediate demands rather than focusing on activities with long-term value and higher leverage.

54% said they often feel impatient, frustrated or irritable at work, especially when demand gets high.

And now we wonder why our leaders aren’t able to take time to think strategically and focus on what the business needs for the future while ensuring that the recent crisis de jour is dealt with.

The answer isn’t that we have the wrong people or that they are not smart enough or have enough resources it is simply that they have an energy crisis. If we spend more money than we make we end up bankrupt. If we use more energy than we can create we end up exhausted, unfocused, frustrated and unhappy.

82% reported they regularly get fewer than 7-8 hours of sleep and often wake up feeling tired.

70% don't take regular breaks during the day to renew and refuel.

70% eat lunch at their desks, if they eat lunch at all.

65% don't consistently work out.

68% said they don't have enough time with their families and loved ones, and when they're with them, they're not always really with them.

71% take too little time for the activities they most deeply enjoy.

The answer to the problems in business today or in our country can’t all be answered by getting more sleep but if our focus was more on investing in our people than how much we can get out of them we’d stand a better chance of finding that break through idea, anticipating the next turn in the road before we ran off it, creating excitement about what we can generate through our work.

Read more at the Tony Schwartz HBR bog

Linda Adams -


What if MARTIN LUTHER KING had shared a plan and not a DREAM?

What would you risk for a twelve point plan?

I entertained that question after I listened to the video by Simon Sinek. The basic premise of this brief presentation is so very powerful. Leaders by the very nature of their position have power and authority but our desire and drive to follow great leaders and to do our best work for them is because they inspire us. 

The video introduces us to Sinek’s Three Golden Circles. Sinek provides numerous examples of the difference in results of communicating and leading from the outside circle or from the inside circle.

Someone comes to work for you to get a paycheck - WHAT

Someone comes to work for you to create something of meaningful and sustainable value to others – WHY

Which of the two will be the better connected and more loyal employee or partner aligned with your goals and vision?

“I have a PLAN” – WHAT

“I have a DREAM.” - WHY

What if the speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial had been a twelve point plan to drive racial integration and harmony? Would Freedom Riders have risked all for a twelve point plan?

People connect at an emotional level with WHY – the purpose the passion. We are inspired, driven and motivated by what we believe in and when leaders come along who create that connection between their purpose and we make it ours, great things happen. In that space innovative companies are born, barriers dissolve, revolutionary breakthrough performance occurs.

As a leader, how do you lead? Do people work for you because WHAT you have is a title, a corporate plan with profit targets and goals for market penetration or is it their understanding and connection with WHY you do what you do?

Connecting with WHY is at the center of the message of Martin Luther King, the success of the Wright Brothers in conquering powered flight and in the market dominance of Apple.

At TRIspective we are all about creating excellence for leaders, releasing the potential within in each of us for success. We do this through introducing new and sustainable behaviors, tools and methodologies in a focused, customized and highly engaged coaching and learning experience. Why not call us and see what success you can create?

Linda Adams -