Facilitator Journal | Issue #0502, August 23, 2011
Many readers have commented to me over the years how facilitation
is simply one of many roles they play on their job from time
to time. They exercise this role officially when asked to facilitate
a meeting, workshop, or retreat. At other times, they may simply
"be" facilitative in the way they show up in the meetings
and groups they are part of.
In organizations becoming increasingly participatory
in nature, everyone is called to be a leader. When
you must exercise leadership as a skill or attitude rather than a position, a facilitative form of leadership often works best. In this week's article, Be a Facilitative
Leader, we explore ten qualities of facilitative leaders.
Have a look at these and let us know which ones you practice and
which ones are your biggest challenges either as the official group
leader or as the guide on the side.
The Improvisational Facilitator, 5-Day Self-Guided Teleclass.
The inner attitudes of facilitators is the key to their success with groups. However, very few trainings address the development of those inner qualities that can make a good facilitator great. That's why I'm thrilled to be offering this class where we'll present powerful, practical improv techniques that are actually inner attitudes and practices that you can use to immediately enhance your facilitation, training, and group leadership skills. See details after the article.
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a Facilitative Leader
of Facilitative Leaders
Group Process Skill
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can
change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
-- Margaret Mead --
Are you are in a formal
leadership position? If so, you probably know better than anyone that
leadership represents far more than merely a job position. Leadership
spans a spectrum of skills and qualities.
If you aren't the
formal leader, it's quite likely that you've had ideas about what your
leader "should" be doing. Perhaps you've felt powerless to affect
any change from where you stand.
is an attitude that anyone can practice.
The basic definition
of Facilitation is to make easy. In terms of group facilitation, to design,
conduct, and manage a healthy group process making it easier for the group
to accomplish its purpose.
invites and empowers others as opposed to commanding and directing. While
there are situations where facilitative leadership may not work, in most
instances, it's the best way to lead, especially when you want to build
leadership within your team. As a relational form of leadership, it also
lends itself to being practiced by unofficial leaders.
is more than a mere position. John Tropman has this to say about leadership
in his book, Making Meetings Work: Achieving High Quality Group Decisions:
exist everywhere and anywhere-in the firm, in the family, and in the civic
organization. It's not associated with a position as such, though common
parlance often makes that association. We talk, for example, about senior
managers as organizational leadership, we expect moms and dads to exercise
family leadership, and we think of clergy as religious leaders. This misconception
needs correction. Leaders are, as defined above, people who help us to
change. They sometimes are those who occupy positions of power, but often
they are not. Indeed, many individuals in high positions continually disappoint
in the leadership dimension.
Ten Qualities of Facilitative Leaders
So now you may be
asking, "How do I improve myself as a facilitative leader? What does
one look like?" The following list will help you identify some of
the behaviors, attitudes, and characteristics of a facilitative leader.
Try them on one at a time and see how they work for you in your groups.
Facilitative vs. Directive. Facilitative leaders know that they're
not here to "fix" anyone. While they may be the "designated"
leader, they understand that they don't always need to have all the answers.
As a facilitative leader, you see your job as one where you help your
team members expand the horizons of their awareness, and facilitate them
taking responsibility for their actions, past, present, and future.
not a "know-it-all." Being the leader doesn't necessarily
mean that you have to be the "authority" on the subject at hand.
The amount of brilliance unleashed in your team depends on how well you
let go of your need to know more than anyone else.
3. You're a guide
on the side vs. a sage on center stage. The way most of us were raised
and schooled, we were conditioned to shut up and listen to the wisdom
of the "expert" on the podium or the person "in charge."
But if you consistently approach your leadership from the perspective
that the wisdom in the "room" is far more potent than the "sage"
in front of the room, you'll see your people more engaged, having more
fun, and achieving greater results.
4. You believe
in your people. You see, invite, and challenge your people, not based
on what they've done, but what you know they can do based on the latent
abilities you see in them - abilities that they may not be aware of just
yet. Empowering your team takes a huge burden off of you to do everything
as the leader. This is replaced by the burden of faith you must maintain
in what's possible and hold that vision in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.
transparent. You don't withhold relevant thoughts and feelings to
try to look good to your team. To the degree we are honest about what
we see and experience, the more effortlessly we will move forward, and
the more powerful our invitation is to others to accept and see what is.
6. You make
adjustments instead of judgments. Facilitative leaders are models
of functional behavior. You engender trust by telling the truth and doing
what you say you will do. You gracefully accept constructive feedback
from your team members. When you make mistakes, you own them, correct
them, and move on.
over yourself. You accept yourself fully, flaws and all. You've given
up presenting an image you think others want to see and offer your unique
self as you are, placing your focus on greater visions, on others, and
on the task at hand.
8. You practice
extreme responsibility. You get that you choose your thoughts, feelings,
and actions in every moment no matter the outer circumstances. When the
unexpected occurs, instead of letting it set you back, you simply ask,
"What's my next action?"
9. You practice
being present. You live in the present knowing that this is where
you get your power and knowledge of right action. You simply notice where
you are and when you're not here, you choose to be "here" now.
People's ongoing patterns of behavior show up constantly in their everyday
interactions. Being available to the present moment helps you discern
these behaviors, provide compassionate feedback when possible, and see
the underlying dynamics that cause problems in groups. Ironically, the
best future possible will be derived from living solidly, fully, and effectively
in the now.
10. You take
excellent care of yourself. You engage in regular centering and self-care
practices to help you stay in peak condition physically, mentally, emotionally,
and spiritually. Engage in practices to expand and cultivate your awareness
such as meditation, martial arts, tai chi, yoga, good nutrition, exercise,
diaphragmatic breathing, practicing presence, etc.
Add Your Comments
Which of the qualities
above really got your attention? Take a minute to jot down some thoughts
on what you can do to exercise this quality today. Then go take action.
What is your own definition of facilitative leadership? Are there any
qualities missing that you would add that you're good at? That you'd like
to improve? Feel free to send me any comments, insights or feedback about
this lesson - just click on Add Your Comments to share your questions, feedback, or experience on this topic.
This Week's Offer
Teleclass on the use of improv techniques to enhance
your facilitation, training, and group leadership
improv techniques to become a more effective facilitator
and group leader
The Improvisational Facilitator
The inner attitudes of facilitators is the key to their success
with groups. However, very few trainings address the development
of those inner qualities that can make a good facilitator
great. That's why I'm thrilled to be offering this class where we'll
present powerful, practical improv techniques that are actually
inner attitudes and practicies that you can use to immediately
enhance your facilitation, training, and group leadership
This dynamic teleclass, led by master
trainer, Sue Walden, is for anyone who facilitates, manages,
teaches, mediates, coaches, counsels, directs any group. This
highly interactive course provides an experiential
approach using very novel exercises to help you build the
skills to create an environment for participation; one that
encourages openness and risk-taking for you and groups.
Click here for details and purchase information