Leadership Islands

Onetangi Beach Waiheke Island New ZealandI spent a rewarding (and mostly very sunny) two days on Waiheke Island last week with a leadership team. The team is usually spread out over the main cities and rarely, if ever, physically gets together.

There were some initial jokes about the circle of chairs in the room and, as I try to do, there were no slides, no notes, only a loose agenda, and lots of talking.

By the time the two days drew to a close the team had taken over. I deliberately stepped back, allowing the team to develop their own plans for the future.

Everyone spoke, there were no silos and I’m hoping a big forward step has been taken in how this team operates and their combined leadership.

When facilitating you need to try and notice when people in a group aren’t connected which can be challenging as it’s easy to mistake activity for colleagueship.

Facilitation is about bringing out the best in others and ensuring that all parties are connected and working for a common purpose. When you see it in that way it’s easy to see that leadership is really a lot about facilitation.

On the Thursday evening at Waiheke, Winston Peters announced his coalition government. In his own words he did it without a conversation with one of the two parties he will be in Government with.

That’s either genius – some new form of leadership yet untried – or something else which will require a new form of facilitation involving a shared purpose where bits of the team don’t actually engage.

I’m pretty sure it’s not genius! Setting up a new team requires ground rules, communication, a common purpose, and the open sharing of aspirations and issues.

The team that met at Waiheke exhibited and committed to all these things. The new government might need some time out soon to do the work they should have done prior. Maybe Raoul Island might be a place to start!



Facilitation for leaders

At the end of a breakfast session recently where I facilitated a session on personal values I was presented with a lovely gift book on facilitation. I joked that I took the hint! I enjoy facilitation, in fact it gives me the kind of happiness that we should all try and get to at work.

Facilitating a team or workgroup is an important part of leadership. Drawing out the blocks that stop us being mindful and in the present, ensuring we’re all heard, using appreciative inquiry to help others deeply understand their issues to grow all  those present, are some of the hallmarks of great facilitation leadership.

Get ready set go!

As you do more you start to notice who’s talking about the topic and who’s talking in the topic. I’ve noticed this a lot in storytelling. Some people tell stories from the heart, others share what the story is about. There’s quite a difference and it can be that those talking about the story aren’t ready for that deep sharing that comes with authentic leadership.

But there can be another reason. So many people are in a rush – give me the bottom line, what’s the key point, we’re all busy so need to move on – you know the signals that espouse efficiency and signal impatience with real meaning.

So if someone in your team is not opening up, try time. Set aside some facilitated time, time to properly hear, be patient, ensure everyone knows not to speak until it’s their turn and you’ll be amazed what comes up. The leadership gems are available for the sake of an hour or so of time.  You’ll need to role-model the listening discipline, watch you don’t watch the watch and actively listen.

Not really that complicated, but a rare gift in our busy lives.