Why Leaders and Managers Need Facilitation Skills
It used to be that leaders and managers could rely on the old ‘command and control’ methods of getting things done. Back in the day, and standing atop a clear hierarchy, the boss was Lord (and less frequently Lady) of all he or she observed. These were simple, predictable and comfortable times, where the boss could shine, taking all the glory for success (deflecting failure where possible) and where people had confidence in jobs for life. In today’s world of work, much has changed and those days are long gone. The command and control approach to leading and managing is now as outdated as the weekly wage packet. So what’s so different now?
Workforce enlightenment – today, the average worker is far more educated, both formally and informally. Workers know their rights and how to exercise them. More of them also know how to use their talents and exercise power and influence.
The information age – with the advent of the Internet, information is everywhere. This shifts power from the boss across and throughout the whole organisation and beyond.
We are globally connected – by way of social media; stories, events and campaigns can inspire and incite people (workers, customers, service users) meaning organisations no longer exist in their own discrete bubble.
Higher degrees of complexity – in a time of increased specialism, it’s no longer possible for the boss to be expert in everything. Instead, today’s leader or manager must get comfortable at having people around them who are more expert in some other particular field/discipline.
The leader or manager who can facilitate individuals and teams through the challenges of these four contemporary realities has a better chance of succeeding. Instead of commanding and controlling, it’s time to facilitate the workforce. The key advantages to adopting a facilitative approach to leading and managing are:
- Participation – with so much expertise and insight available in an organisation, its madness not to access it. Maximising participation is essential – this means having the right people involved in the right meetings and making sure these meetings are conducted so that everyone, regardless of status, has a voice.
- Collective thinking – reliance on just one person to steer an organisation means only one mind on the job. Unfortunately, all of us are blinkered in some way or another. Facilitating collective forms of thinking may seem complex, time-consuming and risky but using facilitation skills effectively can ensure any number of participants can effectively contribute their best thinking to the issue in hand so that a deeper, more informed conclusion could be reached.
- Ownership – when you create participation and facilitate collective thinking, you engender ownership for both problems and solutions – this is the magic of facilitation!
- Processes that work – The success of facilitation as an approach in organisations is that it provides leaders and managers with processes that work. Facilitating makes it easier to reach decisions, explore ideas, share information, action plan, problem solve and foster learning.