I’ve attended several workshops in the past aimed at facilitators, trainers, coaches, and group leaders. In these workshops, we of course get the opportunity to work in small groups to complete assigned tasks. One thing that continues to strike me is how difficult it can be working within a group of fellow facilitators. Some of my most frustrating experiences with groups have occurred when working within groups of my peers.
Why is this? I’ve pondered this a bit and have come up with some of my own ideas as to why facilitating a group of facilitators is a lot like the proverbial herding of cats.
I believe that working among a group of facilitators can teach use some valuable lessons about facilitation. Here are some of my observations.
The Challenges of Leading Leaders
Leading a group of leaders isn’t easy. First, facilitators like to, well, facilitate when they’re in groups. So sometimes it’s difficult to lead a group when everyone else is leading it in their own direction.
Do we need an “assigned” facilitator? Facilitators often forget about the importance of assigning a facilitator when working with groups of facilitators, because again, we’re all facilitators so why bother? Wrong! Few groups work well without someone in charge.
Facilitators love processing. I find facilitators can really get hung up on process. But no wonder! That’s our strength. We feel comfortable talking about process and most of all, “being in process.” This can be a great weakness however if process and content tip too far out of balance.
Facilitators love to participate, or not. In groups of facilitators, I’ve seen the level of participation go either over the top toward everyone wanting to speak at once, to total content neutrality. Either situation can make it tough to move forward. Some of my experiences have made me wonder why we often work so hard to get full participation. I suppose the distinction here is full participation versus full “simultaneous” participation!
Facilitators love to be transparent. Again, another great facilitator strength that can turn sour is our willingness to share “everything” we sense. The important distinction here is to share only those things that move the group toward its goal.
Facilitators will listen to reason. Fortunately, most facilitators have great hearts and want the best for their groups. Therefore, I find that if I can keep my wits about me, and drop some well placed questions and reflections, that often is all that’s needed to get the group back on track.
So then, how do you show up as a participant in groups of other facilitators? Do any of these observations hit home with you? If so, what are your insights? I’d love to hear them.
What’s facilitating facilitators been like for you? What have you found to be the best remedy? Please share your thoughts, stories, and experiences around this topic in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you!