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Mastering the 1-1

Mastering the 1-1

By: Ross Paterson

Maximum engagement happens when the team knows their leader believes in them AND is looking after their dreams and aspirations as much as his/her own. The source of this belief is the building of Relationship Capital over time. This simple, but not obvious or easy, leadership work empowers teammates who own their ‘stuff’ and deliver results.


A few years ago, I went to a leadership workshop in Lubbock Texas hosted by the Betenbough Companies and Kingdom at Work. They practiced and taught the idea of weekly 1-1’s with every direct report. The goal is deep, authentic connections. If you’re new to this kind of 1-1 work, it will be very uncomfortable at first. Here are a few tips for beginners.


  1. This is not an accountability or reporting meeting. Save that work for other parts of your weekly rhythms and routines.
  2. The agenda is theirs. Some of our teammates want business insights from me, one is working on an entrepreneurial side hustle (which I encourage), another used our 1-1 time for connecting on more personal and life topics. Owning the agenda will be uncomfortable for them.
  3. The goal is one hour weekly. Start with 15 minutes if that is all you can manage. Frequency is more important than quantity from our experience (15 minutes weekly is better than an hour once a month).
  4. The priority is high. If this meeting always gets bumped for clients or crisis management, you will be making relationship capital withdrawals instead of deposits.
  5. Here is a three-question agenda to help you get started.
    • How are you? (Mean it)
    • What do you see coming? (Leave it open-ended)
    • How can I help you?


The most important part of the process is JUST GET STARTED!!




Put it on your calendar and give it a try. When mastered, this will become a powerful leadership lever for you and your team.