Pass the Baton – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: June 8, 2019

Most organizations large and small have a certain cadence around staff meetings. Whether they are weekly or some other schedule, there are routine times when key leaders on the team convene to keep the business moving forward.

Regardless of the agenda and flow of the meeting, the personality types (pick your favorite psychology assessment tool) are on full display in the routine staff meeting. Given typical meeting dynamics, not all voices on the team are heard and overtime, individuals fall into place and the routine drives a steady decline in engagement that results in just hammering through the agenda so everyone can move on to their work outside of the meeting.

A technique that has been helpful to me and other leaders in driving improved engagement and reinforcing a critical priority in the business is a practice we called Pass the Baton. Basically, at the start of every staff meeting, we would spend 15 minutes or so with everyone taking their turn to describe an experience around a customer that they or someone on their team had with a customer over the last week.  Whether it was finance talking about collections, operations on some product/technical issue, customer service, or sales, each person (and each key functional area) had the “baton” to speak with an orientation toward a recent customer experience.   

Bringing the customer’s perspective forward from every function of the business reinforces a few key concepts:

  1. Sets the tone and priority of the meeting around understand the customer’s perspective and how critical that understanding is to building a sustainable business.
  2. Ensures every voice on the team gets some time at the meeting. The extroverts and introverts, the givers and takers, the proud and humble, all get a chance to highlight some key aspect of their experience over the prior week. It is a subtle, but effective way to drive inclusion of different ideas and perspectives.
  3. Forces the first step to improving the communication skills of the team; just simply shut up long enough to let another person speak. Step two (listen) and step three (understanding) will come through effective leaders modeling the way.

Thanks to innovations in technology, we all have more efficient work process tools to manage the business today than we ever have had before. Operational dashboards give leaders timely insights that use to take up a great deal of time at routine staff meetings. However, even with the advent of great technologies, senior executives are still responsible to ensure the voice of the customer is heard routinely and they are intentional about creating an environment that ensures the inclusion of different ideas and points of view from all team members.

Passing the baton at routine staff meetings has been a helpful technique to support senior executives improving their leadership effectiveness.

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say? 

Here are a few resources to HELP YOU:

  1. Download FREE resources, including the 4 A’s of Leadership, at
  2. Check out my latest book, Looking Back-What I Learned When I Left a Great Company, for helpful insights on leadership, building a great business, and winning the war on top talent.

David Esposito