Hello MFJ Readers. In this issue, we review some advanced
perspectives on facilitation and what it means to be a
facilitator. I'd like to thank my friend Jan
Allen for helping me bring out these perspectives. As we
move from exploring the abstract concept of facilitation to
addressing its use in specific roles such as leader, educator,
coach, therapist, manager, etc., we invite your comments,
insights, stories, and experiences that illustrate how the
facilitation skill set and perspective enhances your role. Please email
your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. I'd love to hear
Thanks for reading!
Value Lies in Our Ignorance.
Facilitators are highly regarded (at
least we hope) professionals, right? We must present a strong
and professional image as we're "on stage" much of the
time, performing an important function for our clients,
employees, students, neighbors, etc. And as is often the case
with people standing in front of a room, orchestrating
processes, offering feedback and advice, we are looked to as
authorities, as experts, as wise men and women.
So it's not surprising when we begin to believe these things
about ourselves and feel we have to live up to the
"image" of the professional expert. As this image
takes hold in our own minds, it may be difficult at times to not
have the answer or know where to go next. In and of itself, this
is not a bad place to be, however, we can really short change
those we serve by withholding this information.
Huh? What are you talking about? Are you asking me to share my
weakness with my people? My clients? That would be suicide! I
think it's time to unsubscribe from this journal!
Now hold on dear reader. There may be another way to look at
this. You see, I view Facilitation, or Facilitative (Servant)
Leadership, if you will, as a kind of a spiritual task. I
suggest that one of the most powerful things you can do as a
leader or as a facilitator is to empower your people to access
and utilize their own wisdom and problem-solving skills as a
group. This is not likely to happen when they are focused on you
as the authority.
Hold the space for truth and
honesty. There are few
places one can venture in the world where private truths can be
fully shared and respected. The facilitator that gives voice to
those subtle perceptions that no one sees or admits is very
empowering, e.g., "I'm sorry people but I'm experiencing
complete confusion right now and don't know where to go next.
What to you see right now?"
Be willing to be
unliked. Putting yourself in the position of not
knowing, shining the light on an unflattering behavior, or
giving air time to a minority opinion can piss some people off.
This may sometimes prevent you from sharing your full truth.
Giving up your need to be liked by those you serve will, in the
end, serve them best, and garner you respect in the long
Find strength in your vulnerability. If you can view
yourself as simply a catalyst for a dynamic and ongoing process,
that process will evolve. A catalyst is not attached to its
greatness. It is transformed in the process it seeks to
catalyze. Sharing what's real for you is transforming for all
concerned. Surrender to being transformed by sharing your truth
irrespective of your judgments about it. "I've never been
here before, I'm not sure where we're going, but I'm willing to
be a mirror for you on the journey."
See through eyes of innocence. A child doesn't
anticipate the outcome of sharing her truth, and as a result, is
granted the gift of living fully in the present moment. Your
innocence will allow you to
see through the ever-present crap of judgment, fear, and
withholding. If you begin to risk trusting your truth, your
vulnerability, and your innocence; if you step into who you are, not what
you know, you will being leading people to themselves, and their
Where is "knowing too
much" hanging you up as a leader and/or facilitator?. Choose one of
the above actions to practice this week and journal your
me your comments.
How can the skills of the "Facilitative Leader"
improve the effectiveness of your team?
your inputs and I'll send the entire collection
to those who contribute.