Leading a discussion effectively is a skill that few posses. This ability to bring the combined intelligence and experience of many to bear on a problem effectively and congenially can be developed with practice.
1. Make sure the discussion room is as pleasant as possible and the chairs for the participants arranged in a circle so that all participants can see each other equally easily.
2. Your first task as discussion or group leader is to explain the purpose of the meeting or the precise question(s) to be discussed.
3. Let the group know exactly its role, e.g. to react, to give recommendations or to decide.
4. Remember the principle: Don’t do it yourself. Let someone else take minutes or be recorded. Redirect questions back to the group. Be a traffic policeman, not a goalkeeper.
5. Don’t be afraid of a little silence at the beginning as members focus on the problem.
6. See value in disagreement and by protecting the expression of minority opinions improve the quality of the discussion.
7. Do not allow your preferences to be seen; that is, do not indicate which side of an issue you prefer.
8. Be decisive in giving recognition to speakers: not “You” or “Yes” but ‘Mr. Roberts’, ‘Mr. James’
9. Keep looking around the group to see who is anxious to make a contribution. Just by the use of your eyes and facial expression you can communicate much to be more silent members.
10. Be cheerful, alert and courteous.
11. Most of your questions should be overhead questions addressed to the group as such. Avoid calling anybody by name to respond, if he has not shown any desire to speak.
12. Try to keep all the keys of the typewriter working. Cut off tactfully and congenially those who speak too long e.g. We’re fortunate to be able to share your experiences, Malhotra but let us hear from some of the members who have not expressed their views so far.
13. Be alert to see whether the group is ready for a decision. Don’t force it when it is obviously not ready.
14. You may find the following words useful: classify, define, explain, interpret, review, elaborate, compare, trace, illustrate, describe, summarize, relate, contrast, redirect.
15. Fix a time for closing, Annoyance grows, returns diminish after an hour or hour and a half. A fixed time inclines members to be brief and contributes to a sense of progress and achievement.
16. Summarize periodically and summarize the minority and majority view points at the close.
The visionary Leader:
1. Searches for ideas, concepts, and ways of thinking until clear vision crystallizes.
2. Articulates the vision into an easy-to-grasp philosophy that integrates strategic direction and culture values.
3. Motivates company employees to embrace the vision through constant persuasion and setting an example of hard work.
4. Makes contact with employees at all levels in the organization, attempting to understand their concerns and the impact the vision has on them.
5. Acts in a warm, support, expressive way, always communicating that “We’re all in this together, like a family.”
6. Translates the vision into a reason for being for each employee by continually relating the vision to individual cares, concerns and work.
7. Concentrates on the major strengths within the organization that will insure the success of the vision.
8. Looks for ways to improve, argument or further develop the corporate vision by carefully observing changes inside and outside the organization.
9. Measures the ultimate success of the organization in terms of its ability to fulfill the vision.