A Leader’s 1-on-1 Meetings; The 5 Keys to Having Better 1-on-1’s Like a Leader!

If you’ve been following my books and videos, you may have read or heard me speak about the importance of meetings within organizations. To be more specific… how to have effective, productive, and inspiring meetings. As a leader in a professional position of leadership or a leader of your own life… Meetings of this kind are essential for evolution! Today, I want to share a specific type of meeting that often gets neglected within organizations… The 1-on-1 Meeting!

Many companies, directors, and managers recognize the value and importance of 1-on-1’s but often have them because it was deemed so in the company policy… leading to subpar meetings that leave the leader spouting projected numbers and goals solely focused on the benefit of the organization. Or, the 1-on-1’s are scheduled, but often canceled or rescheduled due to being “Busy”… as “Busy” will never dissipate! So, what to do? Especially in the face of increased remote work… doesn’t it make sense to improve leadership, connections, impact, and motivation?

It first makes sense to define what a 1-on-1 Meeting is. Let’s define it as a meeting between a leader and employee to connect, understand, grow, and improve; for the purpose of positively impacting the leadership and work/life harmony of each attendee and the organization as a whole!

I once worked for a company that began scheduled 1-on-1 Meetings with all team members. I was game for it; as I’m all for growth, a challenge, and an opportunity to make more money. However, what occurred was way off! It was merely a horrible rendition of an Annual Review in which all numbers and projections were reviewed with a flat expectation to increase those numbers weekly… as if there were ever going to be a number I could reach that would allow me or the company to say, “relax… you’ve done good enough!”. Therefore each week, I sat, I listened, and walked out feeling blah… and went back to doing what I was doing. So… you’re a leader who’s to be different, make an impact, inspire, connect, and get better results… try this process of monthly 1-on-1 Meetings with your team members instead!


Start each of your meetings with the P.O.W., The Positive of the Week! I’ve done it for years as a mental health therapist, now as I provide 1-on-1 Virtual Coaching, and as I conduct Leadership & Work/Life Harmony Training around the country!

The two most important parts are:

  1. You must announce what the P.O.W. is… “We are always going to start our 1-on-1’s with the Positive of the Week. What’s been your positive of the week or since we last met?
  2. As a leader, you must go first the first time. Afterward, simply ask and let it flow!

It’s important to preface you will begin every 1-on-1 with the P.O.W. so they are aware. Remember, as new as this is to you… it’s even newer to them. They haven’t read this, they may read zero books on leadership, and may have had numerous jobs that would never think of doing something like this.

It’s also necessary you go first… for two big reasons. One, many employees are living their lives focused on the negative or simply droning through the day. This question has not been asked to them in a long time or ever… so it knocks them on their heels. If you expect them to go first you may hear crickets or something they think you want to hear. Two, when you go first… you give them time to think and also provide an example of how to answer!

You can share something about your kids, their sports, your vacation, your partner, work… it doesn’t matter as long as it’s true and it’s genuine to you! They will respond and may share something you had no idea about. While few may say… “I’m on the right side of the dirt”. Although a tragic outlook… it’s a start and truly may be their best positive given their perspective and current life circumstances.

What happens as you do this EVERY time, you’ll find that people are prepared for you. They know the 1-on-1 is coming, they know you’re going to ask, so they prepare thinking of an answer the night before or the morning of. How about that for a positive impact and improvement in mindset! Sharing the P.O.W. not only makes both of you human to each other very quickly… it also gives you something to speak about in casual times in the office or on a remote call to; increasing bonding and unity!

Get Out of It!

This is a simple, yet powerful next step… ask your attendee, “What would you like to get out of today’s 1-on-1?

This question makes the meeting about them and makes you keenly aware of what’s important to them professionally and personally… and why? If they have an answer, delve into their “why” and how they see their answer can help them, the team, and the organization. Their answer; meshed with your vision and expectations allows you to effectively lead and impact them with your knowledge of how they can achieve their goals and the goals of the organization.

If they do not have an answer… that’s OK. Some of your employees are “Inspired & Motivated”, but don’t know what to do to evolve. Some are “Steady Streams” and fine where they are. While others may be “Grouches” and could care less about the job, the meeting, or you. In any of these cases, know what professional language they speak (my Leader’s 7), what they desire to get out of the job in general (it may be to have a job, pay their bills, go on vacation, etc.), and now discuss how you can collaborate on making that happen and improve a bit in the process. Remember, not everyone wants to be a 10… so asking a 2 to be a 10 is ridiculous. But, if you can lead a 2 to be a 4 or 5… that’s something they can do and you can effectively help with.

Mesh Goals!

I mentioned before the meeting will be about the employee. As a leader, you must always be aware of the bigger picture… the vision, expectations, and standards of the organization and your team. As they share their P.O.W and what they want to get out of the 1-on-1 and the organization as a whole… be sure to now mesh your goals! Mesh what they desire with the goals of the team and organization.

For example, an employee desires to be promoted. You can now explain their language is Knowledge & Advancement, mix what they desire to get out of the 1-on-1’s, with what you can coach, and mix in the goals of the team and organization; allowing the employee to walk, jog, or sprint out of the meeting in the right direction!

Another example, the employee who is sullen and simply wants a job that pays their bills or is awaiting retirement in a droning manner:

  1. It’s helpful to know their Language from my Leader’s 7… are they Goodies-Time (like treats, coffee, etc.), Quality Minutes, Recognition & Affirmation, Knowledge & Advancement, Incentives, Flexibility, or Respect. Once you know… speak it!
  2. It sounds cheesy, but do you know their dream…and can the job or their on-the job performance help with their dream? Make their effort meaningful to them; all the while meshing and mixing in organizational vision, standards, and expectations!

I once conducted 1-on-1 Employee Growth Coaching for a company. The employee’s numbers were dwindling and he was growing increasingly frustrated with the job and his co-workers. I was able to discover his dream was traveling and he wanted to visit out west and possibly relocate there. As we included the leadership team into our discussion, the team was able to share various positions within the company the employee was suitable for, the training required… and positions available within the company… out west. WOW! Now, it’s up to the employee… but without knowing his dream, his language, making the meeting about him, then blending goals… they would have had another burnt-out employee on their hands… Be Mindful!

In really tough cases… the employee simply has a negative mindset and is burnt-out. However, this is rarely the case and if so… there burn-out is for a reason. Perhaps a reason caused by the organization. Be curious enough to know, to ask, and to uphold the vision, expectations, and standards! “It seems like there’s nothing specific you want to get out of our 1-on-1. Over the past week I’ve seen_______(share the positives of what you’ve observed)_______. Is there anything you need from me or any way I can be of service? Over the next_____(timeframe)______, the  focus is on ______(whatever, if any, feedback you may have)_______ to fine-tune ________(whatever process)________ . I look forward to sitting with you to review in our next 1-on-1”.


This is the part that gets missed, and both leaders and employees pay for it. Remember to recap the plan. Recap it verbally… as the last thing said tends to get remembered.

Also, recap it in a work email. This protects you as a leader that you had the conversation, the bullet points, and it was agreed upon. Everyone that starts this journey of professional evolution with you will not finish with you. When that time comes, you will need to have proper documentation… Be Mindful!

Biggest Take-Away!

To properly conclude your 1-on-1, in-person or remote… ask “What was your biggest take-away?”, let them speak, and thank them for attending!

Asking this question makes whatever they say more real to them. If THEY said it, it must be true… as opposed to you bullet-pointing things discussed; allowing them to leave the 1-on-1 feeling grateful, inspired, and ready!

Now you have the tools to evolve your leadership and positively influence and impact your team with 1-on-1’s; enhancing your leadership, their leadership, the organization, and work/life harmony for everyone. Done consistently, you will easily set your company and far apart from the rest!

“A 1-on-1 Meeting is a meeting between a leader and employee to connect, understand, grow, and improve; for the purpose of positively impacting the leadership and work/life harmony of each attendee and the organization as a whole!”   – Andre Young

Written By: Andre Young

Looking to impact your Organization, Leaders, Teams, and Employees with a Leadership & Work/Life Harmony Training or Speaker? Click www.youevolvingnow.com to connect, chat, and customize with Andre Young!

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