After the long summer break, September has a back to school feeling even for those of us who have long since left our school days behind. Many see September as the start of the business year and a time to align teams, set goals and get everyone motivated.

The challenge for those in leadership roles is how to energise, motivate and empower their team to take advantage of that ‘new year’ feeling?

The power of face-to-face

I’m a big believer in the power of regular face-to-face team meetings, which I think are far more effective than the ‘state of the nation’ email approach. But they must be done in a way that is not simply an opportunity for a leader to grandstand. It’s got to be an opportunity where everyone’s voice is heard, and where everyone feels they have a part to play.

Don’t hog the stage

I worked with a client recently who was newly into his leadership role and, having inherited his team, wanted some advice on how to run his first team meeting. I advised him not to give a long speech but to work with his heads of functions to co-present the meeting and talk about what they’re going to do in their teams.

Be strategic

When you, as the senior person speaks, it should be strategic, adding perspective to the team. Your job is to make sure the team understands the wider context. You might for example talk about the big picture and strategic aims for the year. Talk about what is happening in the country; what are people concerned about; make it real world so that they don’t think the team is simply working in a silo.

It’s important that everyone maintains a growth mindset and the best way to encourage people to do that is to share your own learnings.

Check-in and check-out

At Alexander we talk about a ‘check-in and check-out’ process for team meetings which, at the start of a meeting, involves each person checking-in and talking about how they are, what their expectations for the meeting are and whether they have any issues.

At the end of the meeting each person will check-out and relay how they found the meeting and what they’re taking away. ‘Check-in and check-out’ means that you have everyone’s voice in the meeting early on; it’s a highly effective means of making sure people are engaged.

Standing room only


Don’t make meetings too long either – half an hour is enough. Standing meetings can be very effective at keeping things short and also discourage people from scribbling lots of notes – it’s a time to look at and engage with each other.

Time to reboot

Running an inspiring meeting is a great opportunity for leaders to build their reputation as a leader and September is a great time of year to reboot and harness that ‘new year’ feeling.