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by Mike Ososki, PMP

Can we agree? A great question, and often asked by Michael Wilkinson, PMI Atlanta’s recent Dinner Meeting presenter. Mr. Wilkinson is the Founder and Managing Director of Leadership Strategies, the market leader provider of facilitation training and services for 25 years.

Michael knows how to keep it moving, with his high energy and entertaining expression of rich content and plenty of fun audience interaction. Many won high quality promotional pens, and we even got to vote via our cell phones—with instant display of results! The session objectives were to understand the fundamental beliefs that drive Facilitative Leaders, and strategies we can use to lead through facilitation.

This flavor of leadership impacts how you manage, lead, communicate, address conflict, get buy-in, and make decisions. Comprehensive soup to nuts, right? Poll #1 contrasted managers to leaders in the areas of people, vision, problems, and client needs, stating that:

  1. Managers focus on today and are reactive / Leaders are about tomorrow and being proactive.
  2. Managers supervise people / Leaders inspire them.
  3. Managers implement vision / Leaders create it.
  4. Managers solve problems / Leaders eliminate them.
  5. Managers satisfy client needs / Leaders anticipate them.

Michael sees 3 levels of leadership:

  1. The Overseer , with task focus : get tasks done, stay in budget, meet deadlines.
  2. The Coach, with people focus : communicate objectives, delegate & groom, maximize people’s strengths.
  3. The Visionary, with forward focus : vision the future, link to business objectives, anticipate customer needs, continuous improvement.

To move up from Overseer to Coach, you must understand what it takes to be successful in the job. To move from Coach to Visionary, you must have people who can coach other people. Why do some managers not get past level-1? They don’t know that there are other levels. What should a leader do when they take a new position? Start back at level-1.

Poll #2 asked, “Who is responsible for the development of the organization’s leaders?” And of course the answer is everyone. The process is circular, reinforcing and growing people skills and values above and below.

And everyone wants the answers that implement to solve problems. It’s part of human nature that when we get answers from someone else, there is less implementation (~15%), but when we come up with answers ourselves (or seem to :), implementation soars up to 80%.

So ED = RD x CD, or Effective Decision = Right Decision x Commitment to Decision.

Why is involvement important? Because desired results are achieved by better information and informed debate resulting in better alternatives and better decisions. When you add commitment to action and buy-in, you’ve got the whole enchilada. Invite advance input from your leadership team on strategic plan drafts.

We can think about management styles in 3 ways, each with its own appropriate application:

  1. Direct when there is a lack of time, experience, and trust. Describe what to do, how, when & where.
  2. Coach when there is plenty of time and you are preparing to delegate. Describe what to do, then encourage discussion as to how.
  3. Delegate when there is experience and trust are abundant. Describe the problem and ask that it be addressed.


  1. If you direct when you should delegate, those you direct will be frustrated.
  2. If you delegate when you should direct, both you and others will be frustrated.
  3. The two major barriers to delegation are time and trust.

The 5 Cs of Trust. “I trust you” means

  1. You are competent with the necessary skills and expertise.
  2. We communicate and truly hear and understand each other.
  3. You are committed to our success.
  4. You care and have my interest at heart.
  5. You have good character, being honest and ethical.

          The above list is in order of least difficult to most difficult to address.

Hold a Trust Discussion

  1. Introduce the 5 Cs.
  2. Express desire for trust.
  3. Acknowledge the current situation.
  4. Describe the approach to build trust.
  5. Ask for feedback.
  6. Confirm agreement.(Can we agree? :)
  7. Ensure monitoring.

8 Essentials of a Team

  1. Purpose: the mission or reason for being.
  2. Deliverables: the service outcomes or results expected.
  3. Constraints: deadlines and other limitations or conditions.
  4. Resources: people, time and money.
  5. Accountability: source of the charge.
  6. Solution process: method used to produce deliverable.
  7. Leadership: methods used to make decisions & policies, assign tasks, address issues, etc.
  8. Teamwork: the level of trust, communication, and participation.

The TAFA Principles (Take a Facilitative Approach)

      Start with the why, not the what.
      Understand and empower; don’t command and control.
      Create the vision, not the solution.
      Connect first, correct second.
      Equip for success, monitor for results.
      Engage conflict, resolve dysfunction.
      Drive participation, not just input.

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