Facilitative Leadership

I’ve been thinking a lot about the style of leadership that’s needed with self-organizing teams, and how it’s different from traditional top-down models. I think this captures the contrast:

Hierarchical Leadership Facilitative Leadership
Assumes Top down authority Many diverse perspectives
Knows What to do How to do — methods, tools
Seeks The “right” decisions A decision the group will own
Relies on Individual ability Group ability

(I first came across this via the ICA.)

This is how the two styles play out on a team:

A hierarchical leader…

  • manages conflict
  • makes decisions
  • coordinates work and communication
  • establishes implicit norms for the group.

    A facilitative leader…

    supports the group to

  • manage their own conflicts, solve their own problems and make decisions
  • coordinate their own work and communication
  • define team values, ground rules and norms

    Facilitative leaders help the group be more effective by improving the group’s process and participation.