A large part of our work is in psychological safety and its natural progression into Facilitative Leadership. What we see with Facilitative Leadership is the creation of an people-centred environment where the leader manages the process of dialogue.
As an organisation built around Associates & Partners, Eskil has grown through Facilitative Leadership. We have invested time in collaboration, information exchange and engagement.
In addition to this, as a sales-driven entity, we apply the same person-centred approach where we consult heavily with client stakeholders.
Facilitative leadership is a balance of achieving results through effective processes, underpinned by relationships.
Eskil’s key service is in the field of ‘relationships’ – the psychology, communications and behaviours that come under ‘psychological safety’.
Facilitative Leadership creates and supports a positive culture (the sense of psychological safety).
While there is still an imperative to ‘lead’, it is more collaborative and collegiate. There is no driving need for the Leader to know everything but, instead, to capture knowledge from the collective. Whether this is in a one-one meeting or a group session, the Facilitative Leader designs and manages the information-sharing process.
Psychology of Facilitative Leadership
Nurturing the positive work environment
There are causal links between psychological safety and productivity & innovation. The Facilitative Leader is responsible for engendering a culture where people feel comfortable in how they act and speak.
Believes in adulthood
In terms of Transactional Analysis, Eric Berne outlines the concept of adult-adult interactions. Within this, the Facilitative Leader is looking for people who are non-directional, non-judgemental, open-minded and supportive. The Facilitative Leader, however, isn’t looking for ‘nurturing parents’ but people who can manage the process of honest collaboration.
Above-the-line communication is the evident words and actions of all involved. What lies below this line are values, beliefs, experiences, prejudices, mindset and more. The Facilitative Leader creates an environment where the line lowers – and people can be honest about how they feel and what they think.
Communications of the Facilitative Leader
The Facilitative Leader doesn’t expect every conversation to go their way. Likewise, they advocate the maxim, “the answer is in the room” – losing leader ego and encouraging dissent helps to build a stronger enterprise.
Encourages the equal voice
Statistically, the majority of people within a senior meeting will be the analysts. When you consider the need for information and data to support decision-making, this shouldn’t be too much of a shock. But what about creative thinkers, the people-people, and the people who deliver? Or the introverts / ambiverts? Or those who are new to the business and just finding their feet? All too often, the problem is defined (uncontested) by the person in the leadership role. Likewise, this person has probably already decided on the solution. The Facilitative Leader doesn’t have any of these answers and encourages input from all (and limits those with excessive opinions).
Behaviours of Facilitative Leadership
Manages the resistance to change
When people are involved in identifying, articulating and driving change, the resistance to it decreases. People who feel that they are being dictated to will have a natural inclination to push back. When people feel like they are in control of their destiny, their engagement increases.
Gives up control
All too often, people in leadership roles just can’t let go. When colleagues have defined a problem, sourced potential solutions, and agreed a way forward, the Facilitative Leader lets them get on with it. This isn’t to say that the Facilitative Leader isn’t interested: there is more of an acceptance of the maturity and responsibility of the team.
Seeks to raise the capability of everyone, not just the chosen few
Every interaction is a chance to learn something new. The Facilitative Leader recognises that their job can be so much easier if the capability levels of all employees collectively rise by the smallest percent.
Addresses destructive conflict; encourages positive conflict
Facilitative Leadership is dialogic – verbal and written conversations are crucial to relationship-building. This leads to continual discussion and exposure to a myriad of opinions. The Facilitative Leader wants to get below-the-line as a way to build rapport but, in doing so can reveal conflict points. The Facilitative Leader exposes negative conflict and dismantles it whilst, in the process, encourages positive conflict.
Nine traits of the Facilitative Leader
As you would expect, a Facilitative Leader is balancing two traits: facilitation and leadership. There are some touch-points while the primary difference to the purist is that leaders lead but facilitators stand to the side.
In Facilitative Leadership, the person in the leadership role choses not to lead but to guide.
So, what do we look for in a leader to create and develop the psychological safety for people to feel safe in contributing?
- Clarity – someone able to break down complexity into a common language so that it is clear for everyone in the room;
- Natural empathy – connecting with people through verbal and physical positive ‘strokes’ that encourage people to expand upon their thinking; demonstrating compassion and an understanding points of view;
- Evidence-based – encouraging people to rely less on opinion and more on evidence;
- Balanced communicator – speaking less, listening more; giving everyone a voice in the room;
- Attentive listener – avoiding paraphrasing and summarising but, instead, encouraging more questions to build understanding – putting other people at the centre of the conversation;
- Seeks out opportunities to be wrong – not looking to be the star turn or the office guru but, instead, deferring to others and being happy to be proved wrong in the process;
- High enthusiasm – Facilitative Leadership is an ongoing activity that calls for energy and enthusiasm as colleague capability and engagement increases;
- Trusts and be trusted – people follow those who are trustworthy and the Facilitative Leader needs to equally trust those around them;
- Links to the corporate objective – when all is said and done, the Facilitative Leader has an overarching ambition that the enterprise is being oriented into achieving
If you are interesting in the building blocks of Facilitative Leadership