I remember the moment when I realized that I needed to form a leadership team. We needed to have a regular schedule of meetings to discuss things. We had just opened a new office in a different community fifty minutes away from our main site. The distance meant that I could not be available for the day-to-day management of local decisions. The decision was actually prompted by the first employee at the new site. Ultimately we built our presence in that community around him. He asked to set up regular meetings with me. I immediately realized that would be necessary.
A year later we opened a third location. The core clinical person there became part of the leadership team. Now we had three site managers. We called them Directors. Four years later, at the prompting of a consultant, we invited our Director of Administrative Services to the leadership meetings. She managed our support staff and we needed her on the leadership team. While we have had several changes in personnel through the years, the leadership team still comprises the three site directors, the owner (who at times was also a director), and the Director of Administrative Services.
We now use a cloud-based system (Microsoft’s OneNote Online via OneDrive) to build our agendas. We check off items as they are addressed. In that way, any member of our leadership team can log on and see old and new agendas and the notes about past decisions.
As I outline in another post (How we used regular meetings to build our culture ) the way we do our regular leadership meetings. WE meet three weeks out of the month (the fourth week there is an all staff meeting instead). When, there is a fifth Thursday, which happens three or four times per year, we have a six-hour planning day. That is where we have the time to address larger systemic issues that require more deliberation. This structure of meetings gives us enough time with each other to manage most decisions in a timely and orderly way.
The orderliness of our meeting structure has, in my view, kept us from becoming crisis oriented. The predictability of the schedule gives us regular ways to address potential issues before they become crises. And it provides the strength of relationships needed for those times when we do need to go into more of a crisis mode. (See the post “Walking our staff through a crisis” for more on how we handle crises.)