Blog FPO

Listening to Lead

Most of us are familiar with a traditional leadership model, a bureaucratic one that leads from the top down. Decisions are made from the leaders and passed down the line to be implemented. While this leadership style has its place and purpose, in facilitation work we often challenge people to embrace a different leadership style. One that’s purpose is to seek input from all and decisions owned by the group.

We call this leadership type a facilitative leader. The assumption being that the wisdom, expertise and answers to the challenging problems an organization faces, lie within the group. This leadership type requires the ability to engage a team, ask the right questions and hear all perspectives. Listening to the team’s experience, ideas and their suggested solutions allows for the full 360-degree perspective to be examined. Facilitative leaders know specific methods to draw out the team’s ideas and develop consensus around possible group-owned actions. Some of the key differences of the different leadership styles are highlighted below.

  HIERARCHICAL LEADERS

FACILITATIVE LEADER

ASSUME The leader is the authority The group has both experience and wisdom
KNOW What to do How to proceed – methods
SEEK The right decisions Decisions owned by everyone
RELY ON Individual abilities The ability of the group
EXPECT RESULTS Decisions and plans Commitment to action

Ultimately, the expected results are decisions and plans from both types of leaders, but there is one distinct difference. Those who listen to lead are able to arrive at commitment from the group to act. It is their plan, that incorporates their ideas and input. They feel heard and a respected member of the team whose insights were used to create the action plan they are ready to take part in implementing.

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