In many organisations, the divide between leaders and employees couldn’t be more obvious. They follow a top-down, autocratic approach to leadership. Decisions are made by the leaders behind closed doors, without much consultation with the rest of the business and then simply dictated to the people who have to do the work. But with everything we know about employee engagement, could things be done better? It can be argued that this kind of leadership is out of touch, old fashioned and just plain ineffective.
Here’s a crazy idea. Leadership doesn’t have to just come from the top down. In fact, everyone working within an organisation can act as a leader, regardless of their role or job title. This approach is less autocratic and more facilitative. This type of leadership embraces all the best practice business ideals that are hailed as the way forward – collaboration, innovation, accountability and thriving productivity. What’s more, it can make life easier for the leader. Surely if you involve your team in the big decision making, you are going to build stronger relationships and have staff who believe in what they are doing. Many leaders are facilitative in their natural leadership style. Here’s some common characteristics of facilitative leaders, do you tick these boxes?
What characteristics does a facilitative leader have?
- They favour collaboration, creativity and brainstorming much more than planning, instructing and directing.
- They believe the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. They value what each person can bring to the table and can see the power of getting everyone together to make the best decisions. They see the value in the collaboration of ideas and believe in the potential of their employees.
- They have a strong interest in individuals and encourage ideas from everyone in the team.
- They are curious and interested by nature – in the ideas, behaviours and opinions of their team.
- They take time to reflect and engage in active listening, ask questions, and encourage interaction and debate, helping individuals to see alternative points of view.
- They are flexible and not afraid to change ideas, plans and strategies based on the collaborative outcomes.
- They welcome and encourage healthy conflict and opposing views.
- They believe in accountability. Successes are shared by the whole team and failures are seen as opportunities to learn and improve. Facilitative leaders are happy to own the responsibility.
- They focus on the learnings along the way, not just the outcome.
How to become a more facilitative leader
What makes facilitative leadership different from the other forms of leadership is the involvement of others at the decision-making stage. Facilitative leadership is all about maximising everyone’s contributions, ideas and skills. Here are two ways to start being a more facilitative leader;
- Encourage collaboration. The facilitative leader is focused on getting everyone together to work together to solve a problem. They encourage group participation, drive creativity, innovation and brainstorming. They manage contrasting perspectives and opinions to minimise conflict among members of a group. In complex situations, a facilitating leader should guide groups from a place of confusion, ambivalence sometimes even hostility to a place of confidence, clarity and consensus. A good leader will take into account all the individual learning and participation styles, opening up the space for the less vocal individuals to ensure everyone’s opinions and ideas can be considered. A good facilitative leader knows how vital it is to draw from the strengths of all team members and impacted areas of the business and collect divergent views and facts before deciding on a plan of action.
- Be more neutral, less opinionated. When you are getting the whole team together to collaborate on feedback and ideas, it is best for the facilitative leader to stay neutral so that the rest of the team don’t construct answers to agree with the leader. It provides a more constructive base in order to let the creativity shine and for innovation to surface in a non-judgmental, healthy and encouraged way. Being a facilitative leader means engaging in active listening and being a seeker of information. Focus on seeking the ideas and thoughts of others rather than stating your own.
Facilitative leadership sparks more innovation and creativity. Employees who are involved in decision making are more committed to their work. This approach removes the “them versus us” mentality and ensures buy-in from all individuals who has been involved in the decision-making process. Give it a whirl and watch your team thrive!
Could you and your leadership team do with one of my tailored workshops? I’ll share my experience and fool-proof leadership techniques with you. Don’t hesitate to get in touch today.