Benefits of Facilitative Leadership

Benefits will ensue both to the organization and the participants.  In a networked world, organizations that deploy skilled facilitators to lead projects and others teams, have allocated human capital to ensure the success of their most expensive investment—meetings.

Benefits of Facilitative Leadership

  • As context is carefully managed, teams are free to focus on higher quality content
  • As staff are treated as colleagues, commitment and motivation increases
  • As stakeholders’ ideas are sought, meeting activity will be more collaborative and innovative
  • With assertive structure and facilitation, quality dialogue becomes the focus

For modern leaders who have been successful with their existing style, they may accrue additional benefits from the increased flexibility of adapting a facilitative style:

  • Facilitative leadership makes it easier to develop new leaders
  • Greater commitment and buy-in through stakeholder input and involvement
  • Improved, self-managing teams
  • Increased ability to help others make complex, collaborative decisions
  • Increased return-on-meeting time and investment

For additional facilitative leadership support, see your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership training  session offered around the world (see for a current schedule).

When to Use Facilitative Leadership

We want you to see that facilitative leadership does not apply to all situations, but is ideally suited for projects and teams where the leader is coordinating the efforts of competent specialists whose requirements are not fully understood.  The best leaders are flexible because both modes of leadership have their place.

Participants should also come to understand that they could shift to a facilitative mode once their staff possesses the capacity to work independently and assume responsibility for outcomes.  Task-focused direction is required for the close oversight of tasks.  Structure-focused direction works best when leading teams of experts.

The following questions can be asked to determine if a project or team is best suited for facilitative leadership:

  • Are some of the team decisions extremely complex or sensitive?

    Questions to Ask

  • Are team members evaluated with different performance measurement systems?
  • Are the leaders operating without direct authority over some of the members?
  • Do the group decisions require broad support and commitment from stakeholders?
  • Does the situation call for a leader who is seen to be neutral by
    all parties?
  • Is the group dealing with historically hostile parties or complex bureaucracies?
  • Will the effort or project require initiative, creativity, and innovation?
  • Will the final solution require a commitment from a diverse set of stakeholders?
  • Will the team be communicating across time zones, cultures, and organizational boundaries?
  • Will you have strong subject matter experts who need to align around new goals or outcomes?
  • Will you need group members be self-motivated because they are working independently?
  • Will you need your group to perform as a cohesive team that meets periodically?

For additional facilitative leadership support, see your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership training  session offered around the world (see for a current schedule).

The DNA of a Modern Leader

We seek primarily to shift thinking from facilitation (as a noun or a static way of being) to facilitating (as a verb or a dynamic way of doing)—truly making it easier for meeting participants to make more informed decisions.  Facilitating is based on speaking with people rather than at them.  Facilitating is about creating an environment that is conducive to productivity and breakthrough.  Facilitating is about stimulating and inspiring people.  Facilitating amplifies the DNA of the modern leader.

We seek to build understanding around the role of facilitating—getting participants to understand . . .

  • how to think about group decision-making
  • skills such as clear speaking, precise questioning, keen observing, and active listening
  • the criticality of being content-neutral; passionate about results, yet unbiased about path
  • the importance of the holarchy (ie, organizational goal alignment)
  • the role (of facilitator) is not the person, rather a temporary position (like a referee)

We aspire to develop a working understanding among the participants about the differences and challenges of being a facilitative leader rather than a modern, engaging leader.  Some of the differences are shown in the table that follows.  Modern leaders exhibit traits that head in the right direction, compared to traditional or historic leaders, but further shift is still required to be truly facilitative so that their teams and groups realize the full potential of facilitative leadership.

The Facilitative Leadership Difference

The Transforming 

Facing consecutive days of back-to-back meetings, participants financially value the importance of well-run meetings.  Traditionally, leaders have chaired meetings and exerted control over decision-making.  As the workplace has transformed, and knowledge workers operate within a matrix of networks, modern leadership has also changed.

Instead of dealing mostly with individuals (conversations or dyads), modern leaders more frequently work with people in groups (meetings).  Instead of supervising hours of workload, they help their teams become self-managing.  Instead of directing tasks, they motivate people to achieve results.  Above all, they stay focused on aligning all activity with organizational goals, from the boardroom to the boiler room.

The Transforming Workplace

The Transforming Workplace

Change or Die

In fact, most people do not change their minds—rather, they make a new decision based on new information.  Sometimes the things they look at change as well.

Change or Die

Change or Die

Every morning a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion
or it will be killed.

Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle
or it will starve to death. 

It doesn’t matter whether you are  a lion or a gazelle,
when the sun comes up . . .

. . . you’d better be running.

Source:  Unknown

Change is stimulated by decisions.  Groups make higher quality decisions than the smartest person in the group because groups create more options.  Any group or individual presented with more options is known to make higher quality decisions.

Most change is incremental or evolutionary rather than revolutionary.  Yet, by harnessing one degree Fahrenheit, steam power ushered in the industrial revolution.  Today’s revolution is both digital and dynamic, it is “in formation”.  With anything in formation, change is inevitable, only growth is optional.

“It is NOT the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”   — Charles Darwin

For additional facilitative leadership support, see your FAST Facilitator Reference Manual or attend a FAST Professional Facilitative Leadership training  session offered around the world (see for a current schedule).









Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,810 other followers