Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.


The General. You know the type. Talks at you, and a lot. Tends to dominate proceedings. Makes decisions for the group rather than consults.

A recent Colmar Brunton poll surveying what bugs New Zealanders most at meetings showed that 30% of us recognised and disliked ‘The General’.

By controlling meetings, a ‘General’ effectively (and probably unconsciously) shuts down the kind of engaging interaction that makes meetings enjoyable and more productive.

That style of managing meetings generates an ‘elephant in the room’.

Most of us  tend to feel irritated by someone who controls behavior. What makes it so annoying is it limits our own ability to contribute. The problem here is not just with the leadership style, it’s also about participants’ fear of speaking up about it. So the elephant in the room is the collection of unspoken negative thoughts and feelings.

The solution is simple

Generals and everyone else can contribute. We have a natural desire to be heard and contribute and we feel valued when we’re consulted and included. By adopting a more open style, we encourage more equal participation in meetings, and we come away feeling more satisfied. No sign of elephants.

As both a leader and a participant, make sure you ask questions as well as offer information and ideas.

As a leader, create space for people to talk in small groups - to share their feelings as well as their ideas.


About Dharan Longley

dharan longley blog

Dharan Longley is a Senior Trainer at Skillset.

Dharan is an international master trainer with post-graduate qualifications in adult education.

His assignments have included training police officers and university managers in the Middle East, as well as teachers and staff of large organisations in New Zealand.

Dharan's topics are 'effective meetings', 'problem-solving and decision-making', 'team development', 'training for trainers' and 'customer service'. He particularly enjoys helping people with diverse points of view agree on practical solutions.

Dharan is based in Wellington. He has a passion for the outdoors. On days off, he’ll be taking photographs of forests or waves, or out kite surfing.

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