Effective Leaders Draw on Facilitation Skills

Some people seem to have a natural ability to motivate others to do their best and achieve their goals. We often see these individuals as "born" leaders. For the rest of us, this motivational aspect of leadership can present a tremendous challenge. Fortunately, there are skills we can develop to foster growth in others and make our leadership style much more effective.

Successful leaders are able marshal the talents, abilities, energy and performance of others to toward a goal. These personal interactions give leaders countless opportunities to motivate and, more practically, to facilitate.

On the face of it, leaders and facilitators seem to be two different animals. We think of a leader as someone with a strong presence, a person who attracts attention and even admiration. A facilitator, on the other hand, has a much lower profile as the person who creates opportunities for others to learn, contribute, or perform. In fact, a leader benefits from having both dimensions, the ability to stand out from the crowd and the ability to help other performers shine.

Here are some leadership tips based on facilitation skills:

  • Provide clear objectives and rationale
    People need to know what is expected of them and why.

  • Show enthusiasm
    Sincere enthusiasm for a task can be contagious. If enthusiasm is beyond your comfort level, demonstrate "energized commitment."

  • Encourage ideas
    Keep an open mind even when you disagree. You can find useful ideas in unexpected places.

  • Listen carefully
    Thoughtful listening shows respect for the speaker, promotes trust, and signals that you are accessible.

  • Promote individual responsibility
    Give people as much leeway as possible to do their work. Provide constructive support instead of exerting control.

  • Acknowledge contributions
    Seeing that people get credit for their work lifts morale and encourages sustained performance.

  • Keep people engaged
    Let people know the "what" and the "why" of decisions and changes. Establish an informal atmosphere that fosters exchange.

  • Connect people to the big picture
    Make sure people understand how their work adds value to the whole

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