Leads discussions that encourage participation
WHAT IS IT?
Group facilitation is a leadership trait that focuses on encouraging discussion and soliciting information from a group. Group facilitators are excellent at using active listening to encourage participation from everyone in the room. Leaders who practice group facilitation encourage others to participate in the discussion by making them feel truly heard. Group facilitators encourage active dialog because they know that the group will make the best decision if all perspectives are considered.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Group facilitation is one of the most desirable traits for managers today. Encouraging meaningful discussion allows leaders to give their team a voice. When members of the group feel they have a voice, they are more comfortable proposing creative solutions to problems. Without a healthy environment for open and honest discussion, teams will have a hard time building trust which is necessary from members to share creative ideas that solve complex problems.
- Practice. Practice. Practice.
Though aptitude varies, very few are naturally gifted at group facilitation. This is skill that takes some time to build. Facilitating group discussion requires knowledge of the audience, knowledge of the material to be discussed (or at least the goal at hand), and confidence in your presentation/public speaking skills.
- Shadow a Mentor who is Adept in this Area
Find a colleague or friend who is an excellent facilitator and sit in on a meeting that he or she is leading. Participate in the group discussion, not as a leader, but simply as a member of the discussion. Take note of how this person leads the conversation. How does this person incorporate active listening techniques? How much time does this person actually spend talking? After the group discussion, debrief with the discussion leader and record some of the key takeaways.
- Rehearse in Front of a Video Camera
If you feel you need to work on your presentation and public speaking skills, you may find benefit in rehearsing in front of a video camera. Watching a recording of yourself can feel awkward at first, but the playback will show you what nervous ticks and other distracting elements you can work on. Addressing these areas will help you to remove any habits you may have that can be short-circuiting the conversation.