The Key to Sustainable Change is Facilitative Leadership

January 16, 2013
Laura Beck, The Eden Alternative

Someone asked me recently what was so special about being a facilitative leader.  There are so many ways to answer this question, but let’s zero in on why facilitative leadership is particularly significant to person-directed care across all care settings.  When our primary objective is to honor the voices and choices of Elders – or any individuals accepting support – we must also honor the voices and choices of the people working most closely with them. You cannot truly empower one without empowering the other. Successful person-directed care depends on leadership’s ability to leverage each person’s individual strengths in developing a shared vision.

A facilitative leader really walks this talk, focusing more on asking the right questions, than needing to be the one with all of the right answers.  Facilitative leaders engage others by breaking down hierarchical thinking patterns and inviting the bright ideas of everyone involved to help frame solutions.  Creating an organizational culture that welcomes the ideas and perspectives of all stakeholders, builds trust, clarifies expectations, and inspires team members to develop a powerful sense of ownership.  Motivation and commitment rise exponentially.   Meetings become more innovative and deeply collaborative.  Teams develop the ability and flexibility to tackle complex challenges with creativity and confidence.  And perhaps most importantly, facilitative leaders are more skilled at growing other leaders, which is the cornerstone of effective culture change.

Every new approach requires the right set of tools, and facilitative leadership is no exception. Developing the right skill set is the key to your success.  Engaging with and learning from other leaders also deepens your ability to apply this skill set.  Facilitative leaders see their organizations as networks, rather than hierarchies; therefore, developing connections and networks with other leaders on the path only strengthens this vision.

The Eden Alternative has developed a new five-part web-based training called Facilitative Leadership that is running for two different tracks this Fall.  The online format makes it easy to participate and engage with others from across the globe.  The training experience, itself, also mirrors the team-based approach that the learning supports, as it requires that 3 people from each organization participate together and apply what they’ve learned between live sessions.

Curious about how facilitative your culture is?  Ask your teams what they think.  Consider holding Learning Circles and exploring questions like:

  • Do you feel your input is valued here?
  • In what ways does leadership seek input from all stakeholders here?  What hasn’t been tried?
  • Do meetings feel truly collaborative here?
  • Do the outcomes of our efforts reflect the best thinking of all involved, or just a select few?

Leaders who are willing to explore facilitative strategies acknowledge that together, we are stronger.



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