You have 15 minutes!

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Once a very senior leader of the company was on a two day visit to our office in Bangalore. One of his agenda items was to have one on one meeting with some of the managers. I was selected by the site leadership team as one of those lucky managers to have a one on one meeting with him. “You have fifteen minutes time with him” I was told.

Honestly speaking, at that point of time the feeling I had was “why me?” He was a very senior leader and four levels above me in the organization. I thought probably my very existence was “too much of details” for him. What was going on in my mind was not “what should I speak to him that would be of mutual value” but “how should I spend those 15 minutes so that at the end of it he did not form any negative impression about me”.

So I went defensive in my preparation. I went in the meeting with a couple of questions that I could ask him, one of which was “what would be your advice to me to successfully implement your vision?” As a great leader, he was excited about his vision and gave me solid coaching on what I should do to implement it. That took care of most of those 15 minutes, the coaching was of great value to me and sure enough I did not give him a chance to form any negative impression about me.

But today as I look back at that meeting, I wonder if I had done justice to the opportunity given to me. Could I have done something different?

My thought process today would be “what discussion could I have with him so that it is of mutual value?” The very reason he wanted to have those one on one meetings probably was to have a feel for what was going on in the organization and I don’t think he got that from me. If I get a similar opportunity today, I will add one more item to the agenda. I would present him my analysis on how his vision is manifesting in the organization and from my point of view what is going well and where we need more focus. I think as an employee I owed that to him.

What did you do when you had such an opportunity or what would you do if you get it in the future? Please share your views.