What Is Facilitative Leadership? (Plus Tips and Benefits)
Updated September 22, 2023
There are many leadership styles that managers use in the workplace, and while some styles may support an autonomous work environment, others may encourage collaboration and support a more structured environment. Facilitative leadership is a style or method of leading others that involves managing contrasting perspectives to help reduce workplace conflict and foster more productive professional relationships between employees. If you work in a leadership position, learning more about this leadership style may help you manage employees more easily and increase inclusion in the workplace.
In this article, we explain what facilitative leadership is, describe the primary traits of a facilitative leader, list a few tips to help you practice facilitative leadership and discuss some benefits of this leadership strategy.
What is facilitative leadership?
Facilitative leadership is a leadership and management style that seeks to align every team member's contributions and ideas to empower teams to achieve common goals more easily. This leadership style aims to implement more inclusive processes to support each employee's contribution and may help minimize potential conflicts that may result from differing opinions or ideas. Facilitative leaders can help employees feel more comfortable contributing their expertise and ideas.
Unlike other forms of leadership, facilitative leadership attempts to involve all team members in every step of the decision-making process. The facilitative leader typically listens to the employees they manage before choosing to make a decision that affects the entire group. This leadership style is often beneficial to decentralized organizations where a company's managers often ask for input from employees when making a decision.
Traits of facilitative leaders
Facilitative leaders have a number of traits that help them foster a more collaborative and productive work environment. Some of these traits include:
Attentiveness: Good facilitative leaders typically listen closely to their team members and use their input to help inform their decisions. They're often willing to meet with each employee individually to discuss their concerns and make an effort to ensure a high attention to detail in the workplace.
Communication: Facilitative leaders also understand how to share information with employees clearly, both verbally and in writing. They use their communication skills to moderate discussions and are willing to adapt their communication style to different situations.
Creativity: A facilitative leader is often able to demonstrate creativity and foster innovation in their team members. They're able to develop unique solutions to complex problems and provide clarity to employees, even when a situation is uncertain.
Emotional intelligence: These leaders are able to remain calm in challenging situations by understanding their own emotions and responses. They're also able to recognize and influence the emotions of others to prevent conflict and ensure that teams remain productive.
Transparency: Good facilitative leaders are honest with their team members and practice transparency when developing expectations for themselves and others. This helps them direct and manage people and resources effectively and in a way that improves employee engagement and performance.
Fairness: Facilitative leaders often make the effort to listen to all team members' ideas and suggestions and may implement processes to ensure that they manage employees equally. This helps them create a more positive work environment and reduce resentment.
Decisiveness: While the facilitative leadership style often allows employees and their managers to make decisions together, there are some situations that require facilitative leaders to make decisions on behalf of their teams. Being decisive can help them to handle situations well and make more effective and mutually beneficial decisions.
Encouragement: Facilitative leaders are typically highly supportive and willing to assist employees when they need help by providing them with valuable resources and tools. They also frequently make an effort to reassure employees and may even offer them actionable feedback to help them improve in their roles.
Observation: Good facilitative leaders tend to be highly observant and use the information they collect to inform their actions. Their ability to observe others allows them to assess situations accurately and helps them identify employees' strengths.
Organization: Being organized can help facilitative leaders better prioritize their time and ensure that everyone on their team is performing at their best. Good facilitative leaders often plan their schedule each day so they can manage their tasks and meetings more easily.
Tips for practicing facilitative leadership
If you want to become a more facilitative leader in the workplace, here are a few tips for you to consider:
Encourage active participation
Facilitative leadership requires supporting new ideas and empowering employees to be more creative while working on a project or a task. Make an effort to encourage active participation and let employees know that you value their opinion in the workplace. For example, if you lead a team of salespeople and you want to create a new process for tracking leads, rather than creating the idea yourself, encourage your team to contribute their own ideas and ask for their input before implementing the new process.
Providing employees with the opportunity to participate in the decision-making and planning process can help you better ensure that the project or process meets their needs. It can also help you increase the likelihood of long-term success. When team members feel that company leaders value their input, they may be more likely to remain loyal to the company and work to maintain a high level of performance.
Inspire your team
Facilitative leadership requires empowering employees to complete their required tasks in a way that supports long-term productivity and provides value to the organization. Help each team member feel appreciated and recognize high-performing employees. Before implementing a new policy or process, explain its intention and ask for input from your employees. You can then explain your long-term goals to your employees and encourage them to develop their own.
In addition, consider your personal values and apply them to your work. For example, if you value communication, establish an open channel of communication to allow team members to address their concerns and provide you with feedback. If you value honesty, be honest about your mistakes to encourage your team to admit their own and increase trust.
Enhance the quality of your relationship with your team members by supporting them in their work and providing them with quality feedback and guidance. When you have a good relationship with your team, it may be easier for you to offer constructive feedback to help them improve. Consider implementing an employee engagement program to enhance employee engagement and company culture. When evaluating employees, offer positive reinforcement and consider scheduling more informal meetings with employees to allow them to discuss their concerns and expectations with you.
Conflict may arise when one employee disagrees with another about the most productive method for completing a project. To reduce the level of conflict in the workplace, it may be useful to develop a conflict management strategy to clarify the issue, allow the opposing parties the opportunity to discuss it and develop a solution that benefits both. Encourage employees involved in a conflict to address their concerns respectfully and consider researching mediation techniques to help them resolve conflicts more quickly. To prevent future conflicts, make an effort to create a collaborative work environment by recognizing and rewarding the entire team.
While your processes for managing your team may differ depending on the company where you work, it's important to remain flexible to adapt to changing circumstances more easily and continue to facilitate a productive work environment. Consider adjusting your leadership techniques as situations change and revise your plans when necessary. For example, if you learn that a customer changed their order requirements, you might decide to meet with your team earlier than previously scheduled to discuss the changes. Flexibility and adaptability may make it easier to develop more creative solutions to problems and handle change.
Benefits of facilitative leadership
Facilitative leadership can help employees at all levels of an organization while allowing managers to consider each employee's input more thoroughly. Here are some additional benefits that facilitate leadership provides to the workplace:
Supports autonomy: Facilitative leadership can help you provide employees with more autonomy while still monitoring their performance. This allows you to empower employees to complete tasks on their own, allowing them to become more self-aware.
Educates employees: Facilitative leadership aims to include employees at all levels of the organization in the decision-making process. By including them in this process, they may become more aware of the company's long-term goals and challenges and more willing to provide their input during future meetings.
Increases commitment: By empowering employees to make their own decisions and creating an inclusive work environment, facilitative leadership can help increase respect in the workplace. Employees who feel respected and valued are often less likely to pursue new opportunities elsewhere.
Improves alignment: When employees understand an organization's larger goals and their role in achieving those goals, they may be more likely to work on improving their skills and furthering their own professional development. Facilitative leadership also encourages teams to engage with one another more and share ideas on how to improve organizational processes more frequently, which may help benefit the entire company.
Supports innovation: Facilitative leadership helps to encourage creative thinking and problem-solving. By providing teams with a high degree of autonomy, it can also allow teams to develop unique and innovative solutions to problems more quickly without feeling micromanaged by company leaders.
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