Facilitative Leadership for Social Change – Virtual

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

Effective leadership in these times is not about striving to control what is uncontrollable; rather, it is about creating the conditions for groups, teams, organizations, and communities to effectively and creatively intervene in the structural, institutional, interpersonal, and internalized effects of the systems that shape our lives. 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.

Facilitative Leadership for Social Change develops practical collaborative skills and tools for tapping the creativity, experience, and commitment of groups and provides participants with a forum in which to explore their challenges and aspirations as leaders. At the heart of the workshop are powerful leadership practices that, when fully embraced, create the conditions for people to move together from vision to action in extraordinary new ways.

You will leave this workshop series with practical frameworks, skills and tools to:

  • See systems by analyzing a situation from a systems perspective in order to leverage transformational change
  • Seek maximum appropriate involvement of key stakeholders in order to make well informed decisions and build commitment to successful implementation
  • Facilitate agreement across diverse perspectives in order to generate breakthrough decisions and actions
  • Focus on multiple dimensions of success — not just the measurable results — in order to ensure sustainable success
  • Discover shared meaning and understand our unconscious thought processes in order to build alignment for concerted action, especially across lines of difference
  • Design pathways to action, including meeting agendas that achieve high levels of results, process, and relationship satisfaction

In our public offering of Facilitative Leadership for Social Change – Virtual, we approach these practices through seven modules. 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. And 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.

Practices & Modules

Leaders engage the power of participation by applying the Seven Practices of Facilitative Leadership. A “practice” is a repeated action or behavior that leads to proficiency and high performance.

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

People want to participate in decisions that affect their daily work and lives. Facilitative Leaders make conscious choices about when and how people can best participate. 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

People notice what leaders say and do, taking their cues from the leader’s behavior. 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, 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. While monitoring bottom-line performance (results), leaders also encourage continuous improvement in the way the work gets done (process) and how people treat one another (relationship). Balancing their focus across these three dimensions of success enables leaders to produce results, sustain productivity as well as quality, 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. The ladder of inference helps 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

In our work and our communities and our lives, time is often the most important resource we have. In our work lives in particular, especially for managers and leaders, most of our time is spent in meetings. And yet, almost one-third of meetings are considered unnecessary by the people who attend them. By focusing on meeting design through six key elements of planning meetings, we honor the people in the meeting and their time, and create the conditions for stronger collaboration.

Please note IISC will be offering this workshop virtually in 2021, in the form of five 3-hour sessions, offered over five consecutive weeks. Subscribe to our mailing list to be the first to know about how to register when new dates are announced. The workshop will also be available as an offering for participants from one organization or network. Please message us for more information.