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Facilitation Skills for Leaders

by Dec 21, 2022Managing Teams

Facilitation skills for leaders are often referred to as the new cornerstone of management philosophy, but it can be one of the essential leadership skills you can develop.  With its focus on fairness and creating easy decision-making, facilitation can make any organization make better decisions. Developing and understanding what facilitation is all about, as well as some tools that can be used to facilitate small meetings. 

Managers who fail to learn facilitation skills are getting buried. Their traditional “direct control” approach to managing does not work anymore when faced with today’s time constraints. When you tap into teams, you don’t just get the best of individual members; you benefit from group dynamics and interaction. The result is a more robust and higher-performing team. But to accomplish this, you must have a great skill set around facilitation. 

facilitation skills for leaders
Facilitation skills for leaders in practice

What is facilitation, and how can you develop your skills in this area? 

Facilitation is a method of handling group meetings that takes the focus away from just one leader and instead distributes leadership to all team members. Facilitation often contrasts with presentation, which delivers information or decisions to a group.  Facilitation is group-centered, while presentation is leader-centered. For this reason, facilitation is incompatible with an autocratic management style.

How can you make the most of group knowledge, experience, and diversity?
The facilitation process is a great way to get employees engaged and empowered, which sends the message that team members’ opinions, suggestions, and feelings are valued in the decision-making process.

How you can design a facilitated approach.

facilitated approach step by step

Here is a 3-step process to develop facilitation skills for leaders:

  1. Orient participants
    It’s essential to educate everyone involved about what facilitation is (and what it isn’t) before you start implementing it in your group. If a team is new to the facilitated approach, they might find difficulty with the process. In situations where there’s conflict, the group might expect the facilitator to adjudicate the issue or offer an opinion.

  2. Be confident that facilitation has the administration’s support
    The incentive to make the most out of a facilitated discussion can be nullified if the people who make decisions still prefer a top-down, autocratic approach. While it’s not guaranteed that ideas and proposals produced by facilitated teams will get approved, the administration should, at the very least, communicate their openness to the team’s efforts.

  3. Choose the right facilitator
    Facilitators can be from within the organization or freelance professionals. You must pick a facilitator who is not part of the problem context or the solution and is generally perceived as unbiased with no conflict of interest. They must also possess the right attitude and disposition in handling people’s contributions. 

Formulating Consensus

All members should have equal input and opportunity to voice opposition to an idea or conclusion. Here are a few ways a facilitator can encourage team participation.

  1. Provide preparation guidelines in the agenda.
    Sending out guidelines and questions in advance of a meeting keeps everyone focused. Participants are more likely to contribute if they feel confident they have something to add to the discussion.

  2. Acknowledge responses
    Show that you have heard and understood a contribution. You can do this in non-verbal and verbal ways. Non-verbal communication includes eye contact, nodding, and leaning toward the speaker. Verbal methods include praising (“I’m glad you brought that up.”, “That’s a good point.”), clarifying (If I may reiterate what you just said, you suggested that, is this correct?), and requesting more information (“Tell us more.”, “Please go on.”).

  3. Build on responses
    An excellent way to encourage participation is to integrate each member’s response with that of other members or the whole group.

  4. Intentionally keep silent.
    Intentional silence can also be a way to encourage participation, especially if a group is eager to contribute and needs no prompting.

  5. Thank the group
    Thanking the group for their participation and each member for their contribution can encourage greater involvement in the subsequent meetings.

Reaching a decision

  1. Identify options
    Brainstorming is coming up with as many ideas as possible in the shortest time possible. Ask each member of the group to suggest one option for consideration. All members must contribute an idea. 

  2. Create a shortlist
    A perfect solution doesn’t have short-term gains but long-term ones. An ideal solution has the least costs and most benefits. A perfect solution has factored in the impact on all parties concerned and has made adjustments accordingly.

Choosing a solution
1. Decide on a criteri
2. Survey group for the preferred solution
3. Survey which options members don’t like
4. Decide

Facilitation skills for leaders (learn more)

Facilitation skills for leaders can take study and practice to develop over time. If you want to learn more about this topic, consider taking my online e-learning course on facilitation for leaders. When you sign up for a course, you’ll get a free one-on-one coaching session with me. You can locate more details at

You may also enjoy my other blog post on Developing a Healthy Company Culture and Why Leadership Matters.

About Henry:
Henry is a Leadership Coach and Mentor. He helps Owners and Executive Leaders develop their teams to grow their business so they can have more time, more results and more money. To learn more, Henry offers a FREE discovery call  check out the details on this website.