What is the single most important skill that is required to be an effective facilitating leader?Whether you are a trainer who facilitates workshops or a leader who facilitates team meetings, this is an important question to ponder.
As a facilitating leader, you want to create the conditions for your teams to do their best thinking. You want to engage every single person in your team and bring out the best ideas.There are a few traits that are important. Your energy. Your enthusiasm. Your communication and articulation.
The skill that stands out for me is that the best facilitative leaders create a space of 'Psychological Safety'.
They create a safe space where the people feel comfortable to voice out their ideas an opinions. They create a space where every voice feels heard.
How do they do that? It comes down to creating an environment where people do not feel judged, feel that their opinion is being heard and see it modeled by the facilitating leader.
1. Non Judgment An important reason why people do not voice out their ideas or opinion is that they feel judged. This becomes amplified when their manager or leader is in the room. I have walked into many business meetings where I have felt nervous in sharing my ideas. When the leader in the room spells this out as a meeting rule, it can help ease nerves and open up the space for ideas.
2. Active Listening Some people stop voicing out their opinion when they get interrupted. Creating a space of active listening helps the participants to share their ideas knowing that they are being listened to. The more the facilitator can make this happen, the more the possibility of ideas being shared from people who are usually hesitant to do so.
3. Model behavior The facilitating leader gets to model the behavior that they want in the group. If the teams see their leader being open and authentic, this in turn fosters authentic conversation. For instance, leaders may be hesitant in admitting that they do not have an answer to a particular problem that is being discussed. When they can admit that, it frees up the space within the team to be open and in turn creates a space where ideas can flow freely.Imagine if you can walk into a meeting and create a space of psychological safety. Your teams will be more engaged, there will be more trust and you will help create a culture where your teams will get to do their best thinking.