Facilitative Leadership for Social Change

Lead in a way that inspires, invites participation, and builds commitment

Petals of Facilitative Leadership
Facilitative Leadership for Social Change develops practical collaborative skills and tools for tapping our individual and collective creativity and experience as social change agents. At the heart of the workshop are powerful leadership practices that, when fully embraced, create conditions in which we can all – regardless of formal or positional authority – discover and build our power to act and make change, thereby moving together from vision to action in extraordinary new ways. This includes making it easy for others — regardless of race, class, gender, ability, sexuality, and other identities and experiences — to offer their perspectives and talents, speak up when they have problems, take initiative, make decisions, work with others, and share responsibility for the health of the team, organization, or community.

By the end of this workshop series, you will have:

  • Practical tools and skills to engage your own and your colleagues’ skills, wisdom, and energy
  • A framework for using these collaboration tools to build shared power, so that we can collectively transform systems that unjustly concentrate power and resources
  • Practical frameworks, skills, and tools to:
    • Analyze a situation from a systems perspective and understand levels of complexity  in order to leverage transformational change
    • Seek maximum appropriate involvement of all those who are impacted by decisions to ensure decision making is well-informed and results in increased commitment to action and higher levels of trust. 
    • Facilitate understanding and agreement in ways that produce clear decisions and quality results.
    • Balance your focus across three dimensions of success – results, process, and relationships – to produce desired results; sustain effective, collaborative processes; and build supportive work environments.
    • Use open, honest, and direct communication to ensure that people understand each other, build shared meaning, and work together to make informed decisions that lead to concerted action and significant results.
    • Bring together all of the facilitative leadership practices in thoughtfully designing meetings for successful collaboration.

In our public workshop offering of Facilitative Leadership for Social Change we explore six of the seven practices (the one not covered is “Inspire a Shared Vision”). Each module is three hours, and may have pre-work and follow-up materials with which to engage between sessions. Each module includes some teaching of the tools and practices, individual reflection to help integrate the practices into your life and work, and small group time to practice and grow your understanding. We also prioritize connection between the program participants because the group’s collective wisdom is precious, and we try to give it space to grow and spread. We also do that  because we believe that building supportive networks between social change leaders is crucial to building the communal power and vision that we need to radically transform our society and our organizations.

Beginning later in 2024, FL4SC will be available for delivery to an organization or network as a two-day, in-person workshop. More information on this option can be found here.

IISC is pleased to have a team of brilliantly skilled trainers – some of the best in the movement. All are fully steeped in the practices of FL4SC and also bring their own unique facilitation magic as they deliver IISC’s workshops grounded in our lens of love, power, and networks. You can look forward to a joyful and inspirational experience that is highly interactive and may include music, poetry, somatic practices, and more.

Practices & Modules
Facilitative leaders model seven practices that enable them to co-create the conditions for self-empowerment among the people they are leading. The following list of practices represents what is included throughout the seven modules.

Introduction to Facilitative Leadership & Building Liberatory Power Equitably
Throughout this workshop series, we will offer you tools that you can bring to your work and community. It’s crucial that we ground these practices in an intention to build power with, not power over, in service of liberation, not domination. Through IISC’s Collaborative Social Change Lens of love, power, and equity, we’ll explore what power is, ways to build power equitably, and how to make participation accessible to everyone, especially those with marginalized identities. All participants are required to attend this module before attending any other modules.

See Systems
Facilitative leaders recognize their work exists within a broader, whole-systems context. There is much to be understood that is hidden beneath the immediate, visible surface, and leaders cannot make sense of the complexity of the whole alone. They must involve others in understanding events that are often parts of patterns, supported by underlying structures, informed by people’s mental models, and perpetuated by cultural and institutional values. Understanding these levels of complexity and how they are connected leads to more innovative and creative leverage for change and, therefore, greater potential for long lasting, systemic change.

Seek Maximum Appropriate Involvement
Facilitative leaders make conscious choices about when and how people can best participate in making decisions that affect their lives. They leverage the interest and talent of those around them by including them appropriately in the decision-making process. Seeking maximum appropriate involvement pays several dividends: better communication, more informed decisions, increased commitment to action, and higher levels of trust.

Facilitate Agreement
Facilitative leaders model behaviors that create a safe environment for participation and teamwork. They encourage diversity of opinion and honor individual perspectives while helping team members stay focused on the task at hand. By facilitating understanding and agreement, facilitative  leaders demonstrate the power of teamwork to produce clear decisions and quality results.

Focus on Results, Process, Relationships
Facilitative leaders build a framework for performance and satisfaction by balancing their focus among results, process, and relationship. Rather than focusing exclusively on outcomes (results), facilitative leaders also encourage continuous improvement in how the work gets done (process) and how people connect with and treat one another (relationship). Balancing their focus across these three dimensions of success enables leaders to produce results, sustain effective, collaborative processes, and build a supportive work environment for their teams and networks.

Discover Shared Meaning
Facilitative leaders realize that all of the facilitative leadership practices are carried out in conversations. Through open, honest, and direct communication, people can understand each other, build shared meaning, and work together to make informed decisions that lead to concerted action and significant results. Facilitative leaders understand how they and others select data, make meaning of that data, make assumptions, draw conclusions, and then act on those conclusions. By inquiring into other people’s meaning-making and making explicit their own sense-making, facilitative leaders are able to discover shared meaning that can lead to understanding or action. 

Designing Pathways to Action Part 1: Design Excellent Meetings
Facilitative leaders know that intentional planning increases the likelihood of successful implementation. Facilitative leaders design roadmaps for their teams and networks that clarify how stakeholders are involved and how critical conversations are sequenced over time. By providing process direction, leaders build confidence that the goal is attainable. Facilitative leaders bring together all of the facilitative leadership practices in thoughtfully designing meetings for successful collaboration.

Community of Practice for Ongoing Learning
After the training, IISC offers all Facilitative Leadership for Social Change participants the opportunity to continue the learning and connection in a community with other past workshop participants. You will receive a link to join an online community and you’ll be invited to attend quarterly gatherings of this powerful network of social change practitioners.

$1,050/per person Nonprofit | $1,325/per person Foundation | $1,575/per person For-Profit/Social Venture

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Facilitative Leadership for Social Change is also available as an offering for participants from one organization or network. Learn more here.