The 21st Century highway of management is jammed with those speeding to solve as they exercise limiting judgment, fixes, and attempts to otherwise set another straight.
We manage process and we lead the individual. As a leader you are a facilitator. To Facilitate means “to make easy.” This doesn’t mean you ignore conflict or difficulty. Quite the opposite is true as you facilitate the necessary holding together of good process and desired outcomes.
“For peace and agitation are stitched together and, tugged on, they unravel a thread of Oneness.” −Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen
I was very fortunate in my corporate career to have opportunity to take advantage of good learning experiences. Such learning was in the balance of classroom and application; practicing knowledge into a skill. The skill I treasure is that of Listening. This skill has served me well in my coaching, and molded me into a facilitator who can create and navigate dialogue.
Listening is the foundation of 21st Century Skill 6: Collective Facilitation.
In my corporate experience I was given much opportunity to practice as a facilitator. Early on I knew enough to be moderately effective and dangerous at the same time. Let me illustrate.
My customer service manager and his team approached me and asked that I facilitate a session to assist them in working through an important issue with their service work. We scheduled everything, gathered together, and got to work. So there I was standing in front of them facilitating. The team came together around the information needed and I dismissed them to go and collectively implement what they thought best.
A week passed and I had not heard any follow-up or follow-thru on their decision. I called Bill, the manager, to my office and asked what they had decided to do. His response, “We did what you told us to do.”
I was stunned. I asked Bill to tell me what he had heard from me. He did. And I was stunned even further−not by him or the team. I was slapped with the reality of the lack of neutral focus in my brand of facilitation. As I supposedly facilitated, I had unconsciously also participated: participation at a level that was easily perceived as an order or a request from their division leader.
I had unintentionally held their loyalty in a manner that diminished their full creative abilities and individual and collective contribution.
If left apart, good process and desired outcomes pull against one another.
If focused upon one at a time, as is usually the case, they are left in conflict causing us to ignore one or the other.
To expertly be with the skill of Collective Facilitation, you must hold the two circles together where they merge in support of the depth of listening required.
You then facilitate in the power of a neutral focus.
Read about the shadow strength related to Focus; Shadow Strengths – Chapter Six (Focus)