Facilitation as Leadership

Helping Others Navigate Everyday Complexity

The role of helping groups create new pathways forward.

Facilitation isn't just for decision making. Nonprofits need these skills to produce together: continuously and consistently.


There's much agreement on the power of creative and agile teams. What isn't so often discussed is the role of a skilled facilitator to accelerate the starting phases of this shift. The facilitator role has evolved into a hybrid task of diplomat, trainer, designer, guide, teacher, mediator and process leader.

It's up to facilitators to invovle participants to do a variety of things:

  • Deepen awareness on the skills, mindsets, and attitudes necessary for the 21st century nonprofit context. This includes team design, interpersonal dynamics, strategic thinking, and some basic knowledge on organizational creativity.
  • To explore and surface the buried facts, feelings, emotions, desires within a nonprofit's top strategic challenges.
  • To test assumptions using a systematic process of discovery. Read the Skylance.org entries on Challenge Mapping and Systems Thinking.
  • Awareness of the types of collaborative outcomes beyond decision making. Read the Skylance.org entry on Outcomes Awareness

Facilitators should also be skilled and knowledgeable in design research, cross-disciplinary team building, interpersonal dynamics, co-creative strategy, and strategic thinking.

Orchestration of Creativity

If you observe the various design thinking and innovation processes out there, you'll see that they're all multiple phases of divergence and convergence. Seek allies who can help you supercharge your first time attempts with basic facilitation and teamwork skills.

Seek allies

The cold hard truth is that when starting out, teams need a skilled and privy facilitator who:

  • Can accelerate the theory and knowledge of strong cohesive teams
  • Create a platform for participants to experience a new repertoire
  • Connect it with an real problem experienced by the organization to introduce participatory values and shared responsibility.

Fast Action Tips

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