In my previous post, I discussed how facilitative abilities translate powerfully to leadership. Yet most leaders cling to antiquated command-and-control, underestimating facilitation’s gravity. Today’s fluid challenges demand leaders guide teams through subtle influence, not heavy-handed control.
Facilitative leadership means empowering collective potential over ego-driven heroics. It requires emotional intelligence, vulnerability, and welcoming new perspectives. This fosters psychological safety for teams to drive progress.
Several high-profile figures demonstrate the immense power of facilitative leadership to catalyze transformation by unlocking collective potential. Their examples illuminate a model for empowering organizations to thrive amid fluid disruption.
Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd has nurtured a collaborative, innovative culture by actively soliciting diverse perspectives. Since founding the dating app in 2014, Herd has rejected dictatorial control in favor of inclusivity in shaping strategy. Employees feel genuinely empowered to share creative ideas, which has fueled Bumble’s successful expansion into networking and friend-finding verticals. (1)
Herd understands healthy debate drives innovation. She facilitates necessary conversations across the company. Her candor discussing past mistakes also resonates with Bumble's workforce. This facilitative approach has been instrumental in growing the company into a multibillion-dollar leader with an inspired, values-driven culture.
NBA Warriors coach Steve Kerr catalyzed an incredible team turnaround in 2015 by empowering players to find joy again. Rather than impose rigid systems, Kerr solicited player input to co-create strategies tailored to the roster’s unique talents. This unlocked greater ingenuity than any individual could offer. (2)
Kerr normalized conflict to build deeper relationships and trust. He displayed emotional intelligence discussing his own vulnerabilities. The result was a beautiful team chemistry that produced a championship through collective belief.
And finally, Ford CEO Jim Farley, who sparked a revival of the iconic brand by actively engaging employees to address urgent challenges. Asking thoughtful questions and welcoming debate, Farley has re-energized the culture. His candor about past mistakes forges authentic connections. (3) Observers praise how Farley’s humble, inclusive leadership is advancing Ford’s critical EV transition.
These facilitative leaders model several vital behaviors for unlocking potential:
- Welcoming diverse voices and co-creating environments where all comfortably contribute.
- Catalyzing creativity by posing thoughtful questions, not dictating solutions.
- Normalizing conflict and facilitating difficult but necessary conversations.
- Showing vulnerability and discussing mistakes made along the journey.
- Empowering teams with autonomy and guidance.
Command-and-control severely limits potential. But facilitative leadership offers an empowering model engaging entire workforces with passion.
The future demands leaders who lift all boats, not just egos. Leaders who inspire teams to face uncertainty together. Facilitative leaders who unlock ingenuity and collective belief.
Are you ready to lead this way? Consider how you can:
- Ask more open-ended questions to spark strategic reflection and innovation.
- Actively listen and synthesize themes rather than pushing personal agendas.
- Welcome respectful debate and discuss tensions early before they escalate.
- Share lessons learned from failures and ask for feedback on improving.
- Involve teams in co-designing solutions tailored to their strengths.
- Praise team progress while providing autonomy and support.
- Model vulnerability and reinforce it's a sign of courage not weakness.
The time for facilitative leadership is now. With courage and humility, we can empower our organizations’ full potential. The future beckons us to unlock ingenuity through subtle guidance not heroic control.
Wells, K. (2022). CNBC.
Strauss, E. (2018). ESPN.
Klayman, B. (2021). Reuters.