As we continue to talk about organizational leadership, an important aspect of that is knowing how effective communication can help leaders transition themselves and their teams into organizational structure and organizational development and to see how those two blend and work together. 

Brief Review of Levels of Change and Dynamics of Change 

First, here’s a brief review of some of what we’ve talked about earlier about the four levels of change. They are, first, change from knowledge that involves our thoughts; next, at the level of our attitude that engages our feelings; then behavior that involves our actions; and, finally, relational change that leads to organizational and cultural change.  

We have also talked about the nine dynamics of change that are briefly listed below: 

  1. You feel awkward, ill-at-ease, and self-conscious 
  1. You feel alone 
  1. You will be faced with behaviors you have to give up 
  1. You will be concerned you don’t have enough resources 
  1. You can only handle so much change at once 
  1. People are at different levels of readiness for change 
  1. You revert back to old behaviors when the pressure is off 
  1. Change can be fun 
  1. Change is a choice 

A Meeting Model Caution 

Now, after that brief overview review, I’d like to show you a model for meeting with others that is very connected to those things, how to have an interaction, how to have a management meeting, or how to have dinner with your family. Let me state a caveat right here at the beginning, and please let me be clear about this. This tool is one of the most misunderstood tools we teach because people like it so much they can tend to use it in the wrong way. This tool is not intended to be used for control and manipulation. It is intended to be used to communicate, to build relationship, and to take us to a higher level of productivity as a family, as an organization, as a government office, as a classroom, or as a business.  

Using WADEL for Meetings 

We call this the WADEL model, how to WADEL through a relationship, how to WADEL through a meeting. In that WADEL, the W stands for Welcome. Whether you’re sitting around the dinner table with your family or sitting around a table in the office with people on your team, in the Welcome part of the meeting, we do things like share some good news. We ask people to tell something good going on, to share some good news. We do some affirmations. This is the time to affirm people on your team and at your workplace. Affirm your children and your spouse. Affirm them for something they’ve done. Tell them you’re thankful for something they’ve done. Affirm them for something about them that you admire, that stands out in them. This opens the meeting up with a very positive note, with good news and affirmations.  

Moving next to the A part of the meeting in WADEL, the A means to Ask Questions. One question that might be asked in a meeting is, “Hey, here’s the agenda for the meeting today. Is there anything else that anyone might want to add to the agenda?” Capturing that new input doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get to it in the present scheduled meeting, but it does mean you asked and you got the feedback. And if you don’t get to the new item on the agenda in your present meeting, it can be added to the next meeting, and the person contributing the new item is then assured that their agenda item will be addressed. 

Another question could be, “Are there any needs that you have today that we might not be aware of?” Then, what happens is, if you spend three or four minutes during the front part of any meeting asking the questions, it gives people the opportunity to get things off their mind that they might have walked into the room with. Then they can more fully engage in the meeting. 

Once that’s done, we’re ready to move into the D part of the meeting which is when we are now going to discuss what we came to discuss. This is the Discussion piece of the meeting, the agenda where we talk about what we came here to do. In a one-on-one meeting, it might be a sales call. In a group meeting, it’s an agenda that we’re going to talk about.  

Once we finish the Discussion, we’re going to move into the E of WADEL. The E is to Empower. Now we’re going to Empower the people in the room by defining clear roles to go out and do their role in what we discussed.  

As we Empower, we’re going to combine that with the L which is Launch. When we do the Empowering and the Launch, we are going to tell some kind of encouraging story or something to encourage people to go out and do what it is we agreed to do. We may assign someone to do this, but the meeting is finished by launching people into action.  

Misusing WADEL to Make Sales 

Again, this model is intended to build relationships. It’s not used to make sales. If you use it or abuse it to get your team to do things for your benefit or to make a sale, people are going to see right through it. If you use this model to really get feedback and to build relationships, your team is going to get stronger, and the result will be sales. But they’ll know the difference depending on your attitude and on how you approach it. To avoid misusing the tool, you can ask yourself if you are giving flattery in the affirmation part, or are you really giving affirmations. Do you really mean it when you ask if people have any needs or if they want to add something to the agenda, or are you just asking these things to rush through the process so you can get to the discussion and make a sale or nail down some part of the agenda. They’ll notice and see through your attempts from your body language and your tone of voice, and not just your words.  

When we talk about the WADEL model, we get a number of stories about the different elements within that model. When I say things like people need to be careful not to use this to make sales, to be careful not to use it to manipulate people, you might be wondering what that might look like. Here’s an example. You might have someone who uses the W and A in the wrong way. They go in and they do the welcome and share something good and share some affirmations, and they might even ask the question, “Tell me your story.” Then all of a sudden, when they get to the D, the very first thing they do is get out their brochures and turn the meeting immediately into being about them and what they want. They only use the W and A to get to their agenda which was to sell their product. That’s what we have to be careful about, that we’re not using the relational piece of the model just to get the transaction done. That’s not being very relactional, which is a blend of being relational and transactional. That’s being transactional and manipulating the relationship side. That’s why we say we don’t want people using this model to manipulate. We want to use it to build relationships, and when the relationships are good, the sales are going to go up and the team is going to work together. 

Using WADEL to Save Time 

Another thing the WADLE model does is save time. You may wonder how it saves time because it sounds like it takes a lot more time than a normal meeting. The way it saves time is people get to give input early. They get to share what’s on their mind before the discussion part of the meeting starts. We all know we go to meetings and we’ve got all kinds of things swirling around in our mind and we’re not paying as much attention as we should be. Of course, if you’ve never done that, the WADEL model might not make sense to you. But you can rest assured if you’re leading a team, some of the people there have things churning around in their mind so that they’re not paying attention to the meeting which slows the meeting down. They may even throw something in the middle of the meeting that you’ve already talked about. If we can get that “swirl” out of their mind before we start the meeting, that helps move it along much faster.  

Using WADEL to Increase Participation  

I’ve coached a lot of sports and a lot of kids’ teams, and I’ve used the WADEL model with those teams. I used to have coaches and referees and parents from the other teams come to me and say, “How do you get nine-year-old kids to do this kind of stuff? To run these plays? To play this kind of defense? They’re nine-years-old. How many times a week do you practice?” Well, we would practice one time a week for fifty minutes. The first five to seven minutes was spent with those kids getting all that other stuff off their minds. When I asked them to tell me something good, one of them might say, “It’s my birthday this week,” “I made an A on my test,” or “My grandma is coming over.” When all those things are off their minds, they can then totally focus on basketball.  

That’s the way adults are, too. When they get that opportunity to share something that’s going on with them, they are totally focused on the meeting at hand. So, over time, it saves time.  

Don’t Just End the Meeting – Launch the People 

On this launch part, it’s important to learn not just to end your meeting, but to launch your meeting by launching the people in your meeting. Remember when you do a launch, it needs to be encouraging. It might be a poem. It might be a funny story. It might be a short video that’s connected to whatever the meeting was about. But when people leave the room empowered and knowing what each person is supposed to do and in the timeline they are supposed to do it, the meeting is much more effective. They know you’re going to do this, and another person is going to do this so they can work together and accomplish what they need to get done. The empower and launch parts of the meeting create teamwork and help people to accomplish the goals from the meeting. 

That’s what we mean when we say don’t use the WADEL model for manipulation, why it saves time, and why it’s important not to just end the meeting and then everybody walk out, but to launch them with encouragement. When used the way it’s intended to be used, this WADEL model is unbelievably phenomenal. It’s great at dinner at night with the family, and it’s great with any team you might be leading or managing. As transformational leaders by WADELing our way through any meetings in which we are engaged, we can make those meetings much more productive, meaningful, and relational. 

Ford Taylor is a leadership strategist, keynote speaker, and the author of Relactional Leadership. As the Founder of Transformational Leadership, he is known as a man who can solve complex business issues, with straightforward practical solutions, while maintaining his focus on people.