Paste the Insight Tag code below in your website’s global footer, right above the closing HTML tag. Adding the tag to the footer will let you track conversions or retarget on any page across your whole site.
top of page
  • Writer's pictureNora Griffiths

4 Tips from Expert Facilitators: How to be a Great Facilitative Leader

It’s undeniable that the nature of work has gone through big changes over the past few years, and it begs the question of how requirements of excellent or great leaders will also change. I truly believe that the art and skill of facilitation will play a critical role for successful leaders to guide their companies successful through the workplace revolution we find ourselves in. 

In a blog published in February, I made my case for why facilitation skills are crucial as a leader and shared some thoughts from three expert facilitators, Prasanna Ranganathan, Amanda Ward and Talitha Tolles. They also graciously took the time to answer some burning questions I had for them on essentials all leaders can learn from great facilitators. If you want to know more about Prasanna, Amanda and Talitha, find them on LinkedIn or check out my last blog.

Let’s get into it! 

1. Can you share a specific facilitation technique, activity or method you find particularly effective? How do you tailor these for different audiences? 


Talitha: This depends on the group that I'm working with but one of the biggest things that I learned through my facilitation career is everyone is going to have an opinion on who you are and what you are bringing to the table. It’s natural human instinct. This happens when you meet someone new. It's important for a group to understand who you are and why you are the one that is facilitating the group, they need to understand your credibility. 

As well, never get comfortable and always continue learning and growing from the people and communities around you, always do a check in with yourself- what is my head saying? What is my heart saying? What is my gut saying? 

2. What key skills do you think a great facilitator needs to be effective?

Prasanna: The key skills that stand out for me: active listening, the ability to balance the importance of bearing witness to participants in the moment and connecting to larger objectives, understanding goals for individuals and the organization, and ensuring that the experience itself and not just the outcomes add value to the team. 

A way to foster this is by having each participant articulate at the outset what they hope to gain from the session and then checking in at the end to see what they will take away from the session going forward. This ensures that we underscore shared goals, but also give participants tools to apply what they learned in the session to what they do every single day.


3. Can you share a specific facilitation technique, activity, or method you find particularly effective? How do you tailor these for different audiences? 

Amanda: I always find success in is silence. Not getting a response to a question you ask immediately may feel awkward at first, but we as facilitators have to take our ego out of the equation. It’s not always because it wasn’t a good question, folks process at all different speeds. If we as a facilitator ‘bail’ our participants out by breaking the silence, re-asking the question, or even changing the direction of the conversation we teach the group that they don’t need to engage, that we will always be there to pick up the silence. So embracing the silence and space is a technique I repeatedly use to get a group engaged – and it works for all audiences. 

4. How do you differentiate yourself from a good to great facilitator? 

Amanda: A great facilitator needs to have a genuine curiosity and a Socrates mindset (“All I know is that I know nothing”). They need to respond to every answer with curiosity, as they dig deeper. The skill in this, is neutrality. You don’t want to respond in a way that gives the sense that their answer was ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – because there is no right or wrong. However, a great facilitator does navigate and lead a conversation to an end point, and helps steer that direction. 

A good facilitator may have a plan for where that end point is. Their guidance, questions and responses to participants may indicate this. A great facilitator is open to whatever end point the group naturally arrives at.


More from the Experts

They’ve dropped some golden nuggets, haven’t they? To learn more, follow us on LinkedIn and check out our blog for more from Prasanna, Amanda and Talitha! And if you’re interested in deepening your facilitation skills, let’s chat!  


bottom of page