Facilitative Leadership

Tap the Power of Collaborative Action

Barry Rosen, CEO, Interaction Associates

Inspire people and teams to do their best, and then some.

Facilitative Leaders empower people to work together to achieve a common goal. They make it easier for people to:

  • Share responsibility for success
  • Contribute their ideas and expertise
  • Speak up when they have problems
  • Take initiative
  • Work with others
  • Make decisions

The Power of Collaborative Action

Today’s challenges and opportunities call for an expanded model of leadership. Beyond coping with change, leaders must design and manage change by tapping the power of participation. Facilitative Leadership™ is our flagship leadership development program; it explores the relationship between leadership and participation and offers a proven method for turning obstacles into opportunities. Through seven leadership practices, we provide a framework for improving the effectiveness of team, project, and organizational leaders.

Download Program Overview

2024 Open Enrollment Workshops

Facilitative Leadership

“The skills I learned in Facilitative Leadership help me lead my team and coach other leaders on a daily basis. My meetings are much better, and I've improved the way I build agreement, manage performance, and delegate responsibility.”
- General Manager, Curtiss-Wright Flow Control

Chief HR and Learning Officers in leading companies have trusted IA to help build their cadres of collaborative leaders.

How it's Delivered

Live | In Classroom
IA Learning Leaders deliver the two or three day program at your site. You can also certify your own trainers to teach Facilitative Leadership to people managers and project leaders.

Live Online | Virtual Instructor-Led
Highly interactive online training experience particularly useful for managers who also lead distributed teams. eight 120-minute sessions.

Custom Blend | Combination live classroom, VILT & Asynchronous
Tailor a blended learning journey for a target population of leaders to match their needs and time constraints.

Continuing Education
Graduates of Facilitative Leadership are eligible to receive up to 16 PDUs for the Project Management Institute.

Download Program Overview

Explore Other Leadership & Teamwork Programs

Learning how to effectively collaborate is an essential competence for managers today.

Interaction Associates has trained over 250,000 leaders in Facilitative Leadership's Seven Practices for empowering people to work together to reach a common goal. Our vision is to help organizations worldwide develop a new type of collaborative leader and leadership model that achieves results across results, process, and relationships.  

Great leadership skills can make a difference in the productivity of a meeting. Let's get started. Tell us about your situation and needs.



About the Facilitative Leadership FAQ

We realize that most people are familiar with the traditional autocratic leadership style. You know it as the "my way or highway" mentality. However, that's not the most effective way to lead.In a sense, leadership is a choice, so it doesn't necessarily come from the top down. Everyone can act as a leader, regardless of their title or role.Our job is to help you gain an understanding of Facilitative Leadership so that you can design inclusive group processes and focus on creative thinking while maximizing contributions.If you're still unsure of our facilitative approach, the FAQs below should help you understand participation styles that honor individuals and their thought processes.

What Are the Seven Practices of Facilitative Leadership?

Facilitative Leadership; focuses on maximizing contributions through collaborative behaviors. Here are seven practices that a Facilitative Leader requires:

Focus on Results Process and Relationship - Produce results, sustain productivity and quality, and build a supportive work environment.

Coach for Performance - Coach team members to think more clearly, critically, and creatively when solving problems and pursuing opportunities.

Design Pathways to Action - Design actionable strategies, so individuals understand how and when to contribute.

Seek Maximum Appropriate Involvement - Involve the right people at the right time and in the most effective way to help make decisions.

Facilitate Agreements - Facilitate agreements among team members and key stakeholders.

Share an Inspiring Vision - Create and communicate an inspiring vision of the future and enroll others in its pursuit.

Celebrate Accomplishments - Celebrate success and accomplishments to create a satisfying and engaging work environment.

Can You Become a Facilitative Leader and Be Fair and Neutral?

Yes, it is possible to be a Facilitative Leader who is neutral and fair, even if you have a specific role within a team and aren't the boss. To do this, you must:

  • Ask clarifying questions without putting yourself on one side or the other.
  • Ensure that all individuals have the chance to share their thoughts without leaning toward a certain outcome.
  • Seek maximum and appropriate involvement from key stakeholders.
  • Neutrality doesn't mean passiveness or inaction. Neutral Facilitative Leaders bring solutions so the team is stronger, shares an open line of communication, and can reach its organizational goals.

    Who Are Facilitative Leaders?

    Most roles require some sort of facilitation mindset. For example, if your role entails being a change leader, business analyst, process improvement specialist, or a project manager, you are required to facilitate action and change. When you work with us, you move from being a facilitator to being a Facilitative Leader.

    Generally, Facilitative Leaders:

  • Draw from each team member's strengths.
  • Get everyone on the same page.
  • Obtain greater buy-in and commitment from the stakeholders.
  • Gather facts and divergent views before deciding on an action plan.
  • Drive innovation, brainstorming, and creativity to find solutions.
  • What's Facilitative Leadership?

    Today's challenges and opportunities call for an expanded model of leadership. Beyond coping with change, leaders must design and manage change by tapping into the power of participation. Facilitative Leaders empower individuals to work together to achieve a common goal. They make it easier for individuals to:

  • Share responsibility for success
  • Contribute their ideas and expertise
  • Speak up when they have problems
  • Take initiative
  • Work with others
  • Make decisions
  • What Are the Five Top Facilitative Leadership Strategies?

    Facilitative Leaders often organize their strategies using these principles:

  • Focus on Participation Styles - The goal is to nurture creativity and ideas before starting a process or project to make sure it's the best choice. Instead of having a group of leaders build tracking strategies and then asking sales to implement them, the facilitative approach focuses on consulting the sales team while planning to get guidance and input on a realistic and effective option. Giving employees control to make decisions during the planning process ensures that needs are met. Therefore, they're more productive and successful in the long run. Team members who feel that their input and ideas matter are likely to stay loyal to the organization, maintaining a high performance and productivity level.
  • Ask, Don't Demand - Facilitative Leaders should focus on empowerment. Your goal should be to provide the tools needed for the team to complete tasks that work for everyone. It might take more upfront time to explain the situation, get input, and design an action plan with a whole group, but it often pays off because there's more buy-in and fewer issues during the production process.
  • Remain Flexible - A Facilitative Leader has different procedures and processes for managing the team. The best ones use an effective system but have room inside to make changes. Adaptation and flexibility help you and the team grow to find appropriate solutions without being stifled by a process.
  • Address Conflict - An effective Facilitative Leader uses conflict management strategies. Don't ignore the situation or make a unilateral decision to address it. Instead, let the employees involved address their issues in a respectful manner to get back to work. Successful Facilitative Leaders mediate conflict and begin healing conversations.
  • Build Strong Relationships - Some leaders like to keep distance between themselves and the team. It's best to focus on professionalism to some extent. However, building a positive relationship based on support and trust helps you deliver feedback and guidance effectively. When there's a strong relationship, the team often responds positively and uses feedback to improve instead of feeling degraded or attacked.
  • What Traits Does a Facilitative Leader Need?

    An effective facilitator is still an individual with their own characteristics and qualities. However, they often share traits that help them succeed as a Facilitative Leader. These include being:

    • Organized - Facilitative Leaders should be organized and keep track of the processes and projects.
    • Observational - Excellent Facilitative Leaders are observers who use the information gathered to take action.
    • Supportive - A Facilitative Leader must support their employees, offering reassurance, feedback, resources, and tools.
    • Decisive - The entire group should be making the decisions together, but a Facilitative Leader understands decision-making methods and how to involve others. When the decision calls for it, they know how to be decisive using their knowledge of the situation and the impact of those involved.
    • Fair - The Facilitative Leader must listen to ideas and input objectively.
    • Transparent - The best Facilitative Leader is transparent. This means sharing good and bad information as necessary.
    • Moderated - Facilitative Leaders need to have control over their emotions to keep the responses respectable and constructive.
    • Creative - These professionals must demonstrate creativity to foster innovation for the team or organization.
    • Communicative - They must know how to share the information clearly (in writing and verbally).
    • Attentive - A Facilitative Leader should listen to gather input to shape decisions for the team or organization.

    Why Are Facilitation Skills So Important?

    Facilitative Leadership provides a valuable and crucial leadership strategy because it empowers the employees throughout the organization. People feel when they are brought into the vision of the team or organization. It also offers these benefits:

    • Sparks Innovation - The Facilitative Leader can encourage and nurture problem-solving and creative thinking.
    • Improves Alignment - Employees must understand the big picture and their role. When that happens, they might adjust their procedures and processes to benefit the company. They have more commitment to the team.
    • Increases Commitment - When employees feel valued and respected, they're likely to stay with that company. This reduces turnover.
    • Educates Employees - Facilitative Leaders focus on employees of all kinds in the decision-making process. That means these people are more aware of the goals and challenges the team or organization faces.
    • Supports Autonomy - A leader starts the work or process for the employees. The end goal here is to empower others to perform work autonomously.

    How Can You Improve Your Facilitative Leadership Skills?

    Facilitative Leaders should:

    • Help shape strategic and powerful questions for exploration
    • Help individuals and groups reflect on their experiences to capture relevant learning opportunities
    • Support teams in different stages of group development
    • Draw out opinions from others objectively and without judgment
    • Design meeting processes to tackle various objectives and goals
    • Intervene with groups and individuals without taking control
    • Manage differing opinions and perspectives that could result in conflict between group members
    • Stimulate consideration of different alternatives
    • Stimulate creative thinking using brainstorming and other processes
    • Generate and encourage participative discussions
    • Use active listening skills

    We help leaders learn valuable skills that can assist with facilitation to get teams of professionals to recognize and achieve their vision of success.

    What's the Purpose of Facilitation?

    The facilitator guides, plans, and manages groups to meet appropriate goals. They have the objective and focus on working together to solve problems.

    What Are Five Facilitation Principles to Consider?

    1. Maintain Neutrality - Facilitators should be intentional about the outcome and purpose of the meetings. Frame the topic, bring forth questions, and let others take the lead. In a sense, they own the process during the meeting, but the team owns the content (conversation).
    2. Stand in the Storm - The group requires new thinking to gain insight. A facilitator welcomes that, even if it feels rough at first. Always include various perspectives and viewpoints without taking sides. Then, find ways to bring opinion differences into play. The group doesn't want to be in conflict in meetings, but that's often where new ideas are formed.
    3. Honor the Wisdom of Your Group - A facilitator must trust that their team has the wisdom and tools to solve problems themselves. However, facilitators must know when to step in. Sometimes, conversations should happen. It's crucial to keep the group on track to achieve the intended outcome while promoting inclusiveness.
    4. Hold the Group to the Agenda - When facilitating meetings, a facilitator must be mindful of the agenda. It's only a roadmap for the meeting, so it can deviate in strategic ways. While important to stick to the purpose and stay on track, there might be times when it's crucial to move away from the point for a moment. It's the facilitator's job to build agreements with the group on how to handle those situations.
    5. Be Future-Focused - Facilitators have a plan for most meetings that include questions focused on making the team think about the future. While there's a problem at hand, they should be contemplating what they want for the company to succeed.

    What's the Role of a Facilitator?

    The facilitator is there to use the group's existing knowledge to prepare meaningful training materials and steer discussions in the right direction.

    How Do We Deliver Training?

    Live | In-Classroom

    IA Learning Leaders deliver a training program at your site. IA can also certify your internal trainers to teach our programs to people managers and project leaders within your organization.

    Live Online | Virtual Instructor-Led

    This highly interactive, instructor-led virtual training experience is particularly useful for individuals who facilitate virtual or distributed meetings. The framework is eight two-hour sessions that fit into any work schedule and allow for on-the-job practice between sessions via practical interim assignments.

    Open Enrollment | Virtual Instructor-led or In-Classroom

    We offer training opportunities in a public workshop setting, both in-person and online. You can find a full list of our upcoming open-enrollment options here.

    What Facilitation Skills Do You Need?

    The goal is to give a group of individuals the opportunity and resources necessary to help them succeed or make progress in meetings. Therefore, you should know how to be prepared and flexible, manage time efficiently, set guidelines, and focus on active listening.

    What Characteristics Should a Facilitative Leader Have?

    They require:

    • Intuitive Thinking - They can leverage their full brain to make decisions and assessments. In a sense, they assume things to piece together different outcomes before using logical reasoning to find the best one.
    • Empathy - Being empathetic means maintaining a welcoming and healthy atmosphere. They respect others while engaging with them and showing appreciation for their views.
    • Enthusiastic - It's crucial to be passionate about what they do and vibrant in their demeanor to maintain a great working atmosphere.

    Are There Disadvantages of Being a Facilitative Leader?

    Facilitative Leadership is considered a good thing. Being a Facilitative Leader is not a small feat and takes work to achieve and maintain. The process to get to being comfortable as a Facilitative Leader can take time and practice. However, in the long run, the individual will feel more confident and capable in their role. Likewise, the team and organization will see the benefits beyond the individual.