Is Facilitative Leadership an Underrated Leadership Style?
What is facilitative leadership? Is it an underrated way to lead? It could be because facilitation and balancing various viewpoints is often seen as a neutral position. Having a neutral position does not undermine the influence that facilitative leaders can have on their followers or subordinates. Here, I look to establish the merits and how to best leverage facilitative leadership using the available literature on the style, the characteristics that make it up, its pros and cons, and its real-world examples.
What is the Facilitative Leadership Style?
A facilitative leadership encourages the leader to show empathy in their interactions with those under them; this means listening freely without judgment or criticism of any kind of verbal and non-verbal actions of followers or subordinates.
Facilitative leadership is non-authoritative, welcoming input and meaningful advice from followers to ensure that everyone gets to express their thoughts and perspectives. You reach higher levels of buy-in and participation when you include the individuals who are affected by the decision-making process. For example, a study published in the International Journal of Educational Reform shows that facilitative leadership plays a critical role in the achievement of school success.
Rather than controlling and instructing, facilitative leadership looks to encourage and inspires others. It’s the optimal way to lead in most cases, especially when you are looking to build camaraderie within a team or group. So, what does it take to become a facilitative leader? The characteristics of a facilitative leader are discussed next.
The Characteristics of a Facilitative Leader
Facilitative leadership is a leadership style that promotes and encourages teamwork. This helps to transform not just the followers, but also the entire group or community led by a facilitative leader. The facilitative leadership style emphasizes the adaptive changes that individuals make while performing their work; it also helps to cultivate and foster a community that seeks to achieve goals through establishing strong relationships. The following are the key characteristics of a facilitative leader that helps them to do this.
1. Intuitive Thinking
Intuitive thinking requires you to leverage and use the full capacity of your brain to make assessments or decisions. It includes making lateral connections and assumptions about all outcomes before something is more carefully determined by logical reasoning. Facilitative leaders tend to do this.
Being friendly and empathetic means maintaining a healthy and welcoming atmosphere, having respect for others while engaging, and showing an appreciation of the views and feelings of others. A facilitative leader has all these qualities.
3. Collaborative Communicators
Communicating collaboratively involves collaborating with others personally and freely so that messages are appropriately received and understood. Facilitative leaders can do this effectively.
4. Good Listening Ability
Being a good listener involves both listening and acknowledging others, paying careful attention to the entire message so that you fully understand what the other person is trying to communicate. Facilitative leaders make sure to do this.
Being flexible means being willing, when required, to adjust to new, unique, or evolving needs. It also implies not being restrictive or static about how you think or behave. Facilitative leaders are inclined to behave flexibly by nature.
It is important to be vibrant and enthusiastic about what you do and what those around you do to maintain a healthy and efficient work atmosphere. Facilitative make sure they act this way.
Pros and Cons of Being a Facilitative Leader
A competent facilitative leader can positively impact their followers or subordinates. Additionally, they encourage group discussion, are transparent about goals and the decisions that need to be taken, and keep everyone involved. However, the facilitative leadership style does have a few drawbacks. The following are the pros and cons of a facilitative leader.
- Facilitative leadership delegates power to each person to allow them to learn new skills that are needed, as well as understand ‘first-hand’ why they need to be learned and the achievable results.
- Employees tend to share more suggestions instead of thinking that they are being exploited for input because they know they will get credit for the successes that are achieved by the facilitative leader
- The discord generated by someone not having any valuable input used is minimized by a facilitative leader through active communication skills and then sharing the implications of the best suggestions
- Facilitative leaders can set aside an implicit bias or preconception and reflect on the evidence present by inviting input from others, speeding-up decision-making a result
- Leaders operating in a facilitative system do their utmost to prevent confrontation wherever possible. This can impact the team’s productivity over time, give impressions of favoritism, and decrease morale
- Mistakes are not left unaddressed as the leader concentrates on the positive results that can be obtained from each case.
- Facilitative leadership invites rebellion because of the lack of personal accountability for problems is an open invitation for someone with a different leadership style to take control
Often, leaders fail to recognize the ability and expertise they have within their team or community. In most situations, the level of insight and expertise needed to address a problem or move forward in innovative ways is already present within the team or community. This skill and experience are identified and unlocked by a facilitative leader, making the facilitative leadership style highly effective.
Founder and CEO of Best Practice Institute, partner to Newsweek on America’s Most Loved Workplaces, and the author of more than 10 books on best practices in leadership and management, including Change Champion’s Field Guide, In Great Company, and Best Practices in Talent Management. Thought leaders and executives voted him as one of Global Gurus Top 10 Organizational Culture thinkers worldwide, and his feedback and benchmarking software has won HR Tech’s top product of the year award. Louis has been featured in Forbes, Investors Business Daily, Newsweek, MSNBC, Fast Company, and interviewed widely. For more information on Carter’s story see, “Meet the Fixer” and GoSolo.