June 21, 2006

Facilitative Leadership

In January 2005, Pegasus Communications published an article I wrote on facilitative leadership in their subscription only publication. Now, for a short time, you can access the article online for free. Facilitative leadership (and facilitation skills in general) has been my most frequently requested workshop topic this year, so apparently others are coming to value this mindset and skill set more. A short summary oif the article follows as published in Leverage Points, a newsletter from Pegasus Communications.


The Art of Facilitative Leadership: Maximizing Others' Contributions
by Jeffrey Cufaude


Leadership traditionally has been thought of as "doing the right thing" while management has been defined as "doing things right." Contemporary leadership combines these two distinctions with an emphasis on "doing the right thing . . . right."


No one individual, however talented or knowledgeable, can single-handedly lead an organization to success. To advance their organizations' efforts, leaders must be able to actively engage others so their talents and contributions are fully leveraged. How can they do so? Using facilitation skills.


Effective facilitation involves using processes and tools to maximize the collective intelligence of individuals in a group to determine the right course of action and to then build a template for acting on the choices they make.


Facilitation is a skill that almost all individuals can master and add to their overall portfolio of leadership skills. The essence of facilitative leadership can be summarized in six major themes. Facilitative Leaders:


  • Make connections and help others make meaning.

  • Provide direction without totally taking the reins.

  • Balance managing content and process.

  • Invite disclosure and feedback to help surface unacknowledged or invisible beliefs, thoughts, and patterns.

  • Focus on building the capacity of individuals and groups to accomplish more on their own, now and in the future.

  • Operate from a position of restraint.



Professional literature often draws rigid lines between leadership and management, seeming to suggest that one is right and one is wrong. In reality, organizations need individuals who both do the right thing and are capable of doing things right. They need people who can help individuals and groups do the right things right-the very nature of facilitative leadership.

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