Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0137 | January 27, 2004 | 8,000 Subscribers...

Dear friends,

Do you ever wish that you could be more "autocratic" in your role as a facilitator? Probably not. But this week's article, "Politeness, Openness, and Autocracy," (POA) explores the importance and appropriateness of using just this trait at times within your groups. This POA idea comes from the book, "Spiral Dynamics," by D. Beck and C. Cowan, a pet model of mine of late that you'll be hearing much more about in the months to come. I look forward to your comments on the article.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher

FacilitatorU News


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Group Management Skill
Politeness, Openness, and Autocracy
Be a compassionate autocrat for effective process for all concerned.
The Point


In our efforts to be compassionate, catalysts and advocates, eager and adept at inviting full participation from all concerned, we may at times forget the need to be outright autocrats. No I'm not mad. I just know that the temperament of many facilitators may resist this invitation, or this ability in them may have atrophied from lack of use as a result of egalitarian rebellion.

Just last week, in my latest Random Acts of Facilitation Teleclass, one student brought forth the dilemma in dealing with a group of strong, alpha males (strong, outspoken, aggressive, task-oriented) and their resistance to following their grounrules. She voiced her concern that sometimes she felt that she was falling into the same dysfunctional behavior that they were when at times she was forced to fiercely intervene to get their attention.

If everyone agrees to how they want to behave to achieve a healthy process, and they've designated a facilitator to help them maintain the integrity of that process or "container," then any failure to intervene on a breech of that container is a failure on the part of the facilitator to maintain its integrity. It may even be necessary sometimes to protect the container with great ferocity. Just as at times we go off to fight wars to stop other wars, though our intentions aren't always as pure as the driven snow, sometimes this needs to be done. It's how it's done, with whom, and for what reasons that's important.

If continuous breeching of process occurs with little regard or learning from facilitator interventions, then it may be time to reexamine the container boundaries. And as always, the facilitator doesn't make the decisions about the shape of this container, she merely points out issues and engages the group in redefining its new boundaries, ie. behaviors, if in fact they want to. And ultimately, some groups may drive us crazy operating in seemingly dysfunctional ways, and may not be ready or willing to change their approach as they are obviously receiving something they want or need in the process...another dynamic that the facilitator can help them explore, or not.

Application


Politeness, Openness, and Autocracy
(POA)

Don Beck and Chris Cowen, speak of the POA model in the book, "Spiral Dynamics," a topic we will be talking much more about in future issues, as three essential tools for skillful leadership, and for effective relationships for that matter.

Politeness

- Demonstrates a sense of civility--we all want to be treated with respect and consideration.
- Shows genuine interest in people.
- Adheres to established social norms and cultural differences out of respect for others.
- Strikes a good balance between interest in the lives of others and their right to personal autonomy, privacy, and freedom.
- Listens without becoming distracted, yet can express personal time constraints honestly and directly such that the other person doesn't feel disrespected.

Openness.

- Generates trust within the group and among its participants.Be honest--we all want to be trusted.
- Fosters a climate that gives permission for others, as individuals or groups, to be communicative and straightforward.
- Does not mean everything is an open book; but when confidentiality and security are important, the need is explained up front. Appropriate privacy is as much a part of an Open arrangement as disclosure.

Autocracy.

- All but the most enlightened groups still need for someone to "be in charge."
- Means taking charge, accepting responsibility, knowing where "the buck stops," and being wiling to put yourself on the line.
- Autocracy is accepted, even enjoyed in the presence of Politeness and Openness which tend to remove fear from the equation.
- Can be a "collective" affair. In other words, enforcing groundrules developed by a group is actually an autocratic action taken in service to the whole.


Would you like to republish this or other articles from the journal? You are free to do so providing you follow these guidelines.
Action

Ask yourself about your relationship to autocracy and how you effectively use it in your groups. Please
email us your thoughts on this topic.
Appreciative Inquiry Teleclass


Learn a Provocative Approach to Unleashing the Power of Groups. This four-session teleclass on Appreciative Inquiry, is a facilitation strategy for intentional change that identifies the best of "what is" in order to pursue dreams and possibilities of "what could be." Within these classes we will explore the four dynamics of AI: Discovery, Dream, Design and Delivery. Plan to bring with you the challenges you have encountered or are experiencing in the group/organizational change process. These one-hour sessions will be interactive and we will encourage discussion of specific situations in which Appreciate Inquiry might be applied. Click here for details.

Resource


Spiral Dynamics : Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change (Developmental Management), by Don Edward Beck, Christopher C. Cowan

Spiral Dynamics draws extensively upon over 40 years of research by Beck, Cowan, and their mentor Clare W. Graves. The original research data includes over 500,000 interviews conducted over five continents, and is comparable to other "biopsychosocial systems development" research conducted by Jane Loevinger, Stanley Milgram, Laurence Kohlberg, Erik Erikson etc.

What makes Graves unique however is that he created a dynamic model of human consciousness evolution which can assimilate other models and worldviews. He also recognized that insights from Cognitive Psychology, Genetics, and Neurophysiology would need to be examined. Fans of Neuro Linguistic Programming, General Systems Theory, Memetics and the Human Potential Movement will find a wealth of material, plus reading resources for further specialized research.

SD has been applied to resolve racial tension in South Africa, in education systems and government, by the World Future Society State of the World Forum, Arlington Institute, and Integral Institute, and by major companies such as Nedbank and SouthWest Airlines. -- Alex Burns, Melbourne, Australia

About the Publisher

Steve Davis helps facilitators, coaches, consultants and leaders who are struggling to present themselves confidently, empower their groups, enhance their facilitation skills, and build their businesses on and off line. Please email or call me at 805-489-4130 to schedule a Free exploratory session, or to share your suggestions and ideas for the journal. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. If you'd like to reprint this article in another publication, you are free to do so providing you follow the guidelines here. Thanks for reading!
 
 
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