Facilitation - A set of Cross Disciplinary Leadership Skills

The more I work in the profession of facilitation, the more I see facilitation skills being a set of cross disciplinary leadership skills, from which any fields or professions can benefit.

Effective facilitation is holistic, it cross over a number of areas, not limited to just the following or in this order:

  • Communication skills - how to word and ask the most effective questions to probe, to inquire, to clarify or to check assumptions.
  • Planning and design skills - how to scope, plan, design and prepare for meetings to produce meaningful outcomes.
  • Organizational skills - how to stay on track, on time and on target.
  • Interpersonal skills - how to manage group dynamics, differences of points of view and difficult situations.
  • Sharing goals and understanding - how to bring everyone on the same journey and moving towards the same goals.
  • Problem solving and engaging groups in decision-making - how to deal with discourse, disagreements and finding a solution that most can live with.
  • Team building and organizational development - how to motivate and support one another, engage each other in meaningful dialogues, discussions, debates and decisions.
  • Change management - how to embrace change as a positive movement for the right reasons.

If the above were topics for leadership skills training, we can (and do) develop a variety of workshops to delve deeper into the content and conversations. I often wonder why post secondary institutions, vocational or academic, are not explicitly teaching facilitation skills - that would be a dream come true for me. This type of training is often offered as continuing education or professional development programs rather than as core competencies, which is ironic as these competencies are relevant, beneficial and applicable now.

My observations have been that entry level workers don't often get offered these skills enhancement opportunities. They would have to wait until one has been with a company long enough, or gets promoted high enough in the hierarchy to qualify for this type of training. I only have to look at my own young adult children, they would gain so much in learning and using facilitation skills. Wouldn't it be great if all companies and organizations advocate for investing in their most precious asset, their people and human capital, from the get-go by teaching them facilitation skills? Wouldn't it be great if people get to learn facilitation skills at a younger age, rather than later in life?

Share the message - facilitation skills are not just for Certified Professional Facilitators (CPF)*, anyone can be a "facilitative" anything - engineer, teacher, manager, accountant, retail associate, dentist or CEO.


* One can apply to become a Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF) through the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). Check out www.iaf-world.org for IAF membership, certification application process and requirements.