What "Facilitation" Really Means

What comes to mind when you hear the term “facilitator”? A task manager hogging airspace up at the front of the room? Or thoughts like, “Ugh–okay, how do I get out of attending this workshop?”

But done right, facilitation isn’t about boring presentations. It’s a process for getting groups of people together to solve any problem. Good facilitators know how to jump right in, establish an objective, create a format packed with interactive opportunities for discussion, and lead groups of all sizes toward constructive solutions. And you don’t need a specific job title or a certain amount of experience to become an effective facilitator–you just have to develop a set of skills that gives structure and purpose to the otherwise unruly art of collaboration.

Servant Leader 

While servant leadership is a timeless concept, the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970. In that essay, Greenleaf said:

“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

Finding Flow

When was the last time you were so focused that time stood still?

Athletes call this mental state being in “The Zone." Psychologists call it “flow” or peak experience, and they have linked it to leading a life of happiness and purposeLao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher who authored the Tao Te Ching, called it “doing without doing” or “trying without trying.”

I think of this mental state as our “sweet spot,” where we have both great strength and great ease; it’s the mental state when our best work emerges without strain or anxiety. Instead of making our most powerful effort, we get to experience our own effortless power.