What is a facilitative leadership style? Could this be an understated secret to successful leadership? Facilitation is often seen as a neutral role, balancing differing views. However as we shall see there is nothing neutral about the potential power of facilitative leadership.
How can facilitative leadership make so much of a difference? To answer that the definition of the word facilitate is instructive in itself:
- To make action or processes easier.
- To help forward or to help progress
A facilitative leadership style makes things easier and helps to get things done. How often do we say of our leaders that they make our jobs so much easier to do? For that matter, how often do your colleagues say that you help make their job easier to do?
A facilitative approach recognises the synergy of bringing together the different strengths of individuals. This idea is captured in the words accredited to Mother Theresa:
You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.
Facilitative leadership skills for team
One of the most important aspects where this leadership style is particularly important is with teams. Whether it’s a team meeting, an away day, a conference, a team set up to solve a significant problem, or a continuous improvement team, their effectiveness is often determined by how well they are facilitated. The difference can make all the difference. Think about the value gained when:
- Everyone feels involved and engaged in a meeting on how to take things forward
- Ideas flow at a meeting
- You leave a meeting feeling it had purpose and direction, and it achieved something
- A clear set of actions are agreed and everyone feels motivated to make them happen.
Facilitative leadership brings people together to help them achieve more.
A facilitative leadership style involves:
- Building rapport – establishing credibility to enable people to contribute with ease.
- Communicating effectively verbally and non-verbally – Being supportive and engaged
- Active listening – demonstrating your interest by your body language
- Questioning techniques – you can use questions as a very powerful facilitation skill: you can check understanding; ask for clarification, or for a view to be expanded. You can also ask questions to get people thinking differently (Why do you think that might be? What else might explain that? How might we do things differently? Etc….)
The potential of a facilitative leadership style
Too often we don’t realise the knowledge and potential that we have within the team or group of people that we have got together. In many cases the insight and knowledge of how to solve a problem or identify an innovative way forward is there in the organisation. The skill to unlock that knowledge and expertise is often found in form of facilitation.
For more on other leadership styles see our section on styles of leadership.
If you want to brush up on your facilitation skills then there is a great series of articles on our sister site, The Happy Manager, start with the article on structured facilitation skills.