Facilitating from the Chair

August 8, 2012 Leave a comment

|Photo by Siew Yi Liang|http://www.flickr.com/photos/sonictk/361505937|

One of the comments that often comes up in our popular workshop, Facilitative Leadership goes something like this, “It’s great that I’m learning all of these practical leadership and facilitation skills, but what happens when I’m not the one leading or facilitating?”  How can we keep things rolling when we aren’t formally in charge and when formal leadership is not so skillful.  My answer today: there’s always an opportunity to lead, ask good questions, facilitate from the chair!

Behind most of the practices, frameworks, and tools that we offer in Facilitative Leadership is at least one good question that can be asked to help to move a group towards realizing collaborative potential.  The point is not to ask these in threatening or aggressive ways, but in a spirit of service to help make more transparent, intentional, and shared a joint endeavor.  Among these questions are:

Purpose/Goals/Desired Outcomes

  • What’s the purpose of (this) meeting?/Why are we meeting?
  • Where are we trying to go?  What is our vision of success?
  • What outcomes are we striving for?  (What understanding do we want to achieve?  What agreements do we want to build?  What commitments do we want to make?  What products do we want to generate?  What (kind of) relationships are we trying to build?  What spirit/feeling do we want to generate?)


  • Do we have the people we need to have in the room to get this done/make this decision?
  • How do we get the people who are not here in on this?
  • What are the implications of not including _______ ?


  • What is the decision we are trying to make here?
  • How are we making this decision?  Who makes the final decision?
  • How are we communicating decisions we make here to those who are not here?

The Process

  • Where are we right now in this conversation/process?
  • Is this process (the way that we are having this discussion) working for everyone?
  • Is there some other way that we could go about this ?

Roles and Resources

  • Who is facilitating?
  • What other roles do we need to fill to support this work?
  • What data and other resources do we need to have this conversation/do this work?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *