As a parent I have learnt that children grow up to be independent and creative when there is an environment that enables them to explore and find their own way.  Telling them what to do becomes less effective as they grow up and they develop a mind of their own!  This analogy can be extended to organizations as the old command and control organization fades into the past and leaders, like parents, discover they have to use their facilitative skills to engage and grow their team.

What are some of these magic facilitative skills?

  1. Co-create an operating framework. Once a team knows its boundaries and its purpose then that creates a certainty that the team is comfortable operating within. Now you can work together to define behaviours, like many clients I have worked with (see this case study), and a clear process or ways of working.
  2. Keep quiet. Only give advice / insights if you are asked or if participants are missing a critical piece of information.  Wait to make sure they are not going to come up with your solutions themselves and then ask permission if you still want to share. You could be pleasantly surprised with their insights and ideas.
  3. Ask questions. Get the team to ask questions. Recently I was lucky enough to attend an innovation session run by  Your Business Partner  for the HBA .  Their methodology included brainstorming 50 questions that we wanted to ask about the problem.  This unleashed a barrage of questions which pushed participants thinking and enabled us to create some great solutions.
  4. Help the team identify their individual and team strengths. Whether using tools like Strengths Finder, or simply identifying what individuals in the team are good at, will enable them to using strengths to achieve goals, rather than simply following detailed instructions.

Any other ideas for allowing a team to take off?


To Emer Wynne for a great conversation that started the thinking for this article

To Maria Rosaria Natale for her great facilitation and generosity in sharing an important tool to engage a diverse group of individuals