Facilitating an Emerging Network

June 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Photo by: Juanfox94

This post originally appeared as a guest blog to the Leadership Learning Community Blog.

In my last post I shared observations on building a leadership network and lessons from the Barr Fellowship.  What is the role of a facilitator in such an effort?  It is not an easy role to fill.  The facilitator has to be able to design and hold a space that makes it possible for the group to move, to shift, to grow, while fully trusting the group’s capacity to do so.  The facilitator must be able to rely on the passion and purpose that is already present among the leaders who are coming together.

The facilitator must also understand that “disruptive” is not pretty; it necessitates heat.  Rebirth is a lot like birth; it is beautiful and messy.  Facilitation here is an important form of leadership, one that yields and listens as much as it holds and directs.  It requires an attunement to what I like to think of as “the inner side of leadership.”  This sort of attunement becomes more accessible with practice.  The more frequently I access my inner resources, the more skillful I become at accessing them.

What is interesting about these “inner resources” – these capacities for trust and compassion, a mindful posture, a daring to love – is that while they are accessed in deeply individual ways, what is accessed is actually common.  Spaces of individual authenticity actually reveal commonality – common dreams and fears, shared aspirations, an intensely familiar form of love.  A good facilitator comes with tools and processes, technical know how, lessons about the power of interaction, but these all fall short absent an inner condition that can be placed at the service of the whole and its thrusts to integration.

The modeled authenticity of a facilitator – a combination of strength and vulnerability – makes it possible for others to step more boldly into that space.  With leaders such as the Barr Fellows it is possible to trust that a group comes with an inherent potential for impact; passion and purpose are already there.  The conditions unlocked by the learning journey and the skillful facilitation of interaction under those conditions make it possible for this inherent potential to be channeled in a fruitful direction – a more organic, relationship based, form of networked collaboration that flows in ways that are life giving.  The leadership network becomes a vehicle for the manifestation of our higher social aspirations because it is also a space for our selves.

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  • Curtis says:

    Thanks, Gibran. Nicely said. And connects to something I hope to post tomorrow. The expansion of inner resources really does seem to be under-appreciated. And I appreciate, in particular, your comment that, “The facilitator must be able to rely on the passion and purpose that is already present among the leaders who are coming together.” Facilitators are not miracle workers. They have to work with the energy that’s there. You can bring a fire back from embers and make it burn more brightly, but if nothing or no one is smoldering, that’s a tall order.

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