Facilitative leadership is a model where there is deep collaboration within the organization. That means all people involved, including the leader, are transformed in some way by the work they are doing. It focuses on the adaptive changes people make as they work, while simultaneously developing and supporting a culture that seeks out goal achievement through the formation of effective relationships.
For a facilitative leader to be competent, they must be able to understand how group relationships effect productivity. They must facilitate group discussion, be clear about expectations, and be appropriately involved whenever decisions must be made.
At the end of the day, a facilitative leader is able to create consensus, even if there are views within the group that are in conflict with one another. Here are the advantages and disadvantages to consider when evaluating the effectiveness of the facilitative leadership style.
List of the Advantages of a Facilitative Leadership Style
1. It encourages learning within the workplace environment.
Most people retain more information when they feel like there is a need for them to learn something new. This creates more personal engagement with the learning process. Facilitative leadership gives each person more control over the new skills that must be learned, why they must be learned, and the outcomes which are possible. By giving their teams more control at the individual level, better skills can be developed.
2. It removes judgment from the workplace.
Facilitative leaders engage with each person, soliciting ideas and opinions whenever a decision must be made. Instead of feeling like they are being manipulated for information, workers tend to share more ideas because they know they’ll receive credit for the outcomes that are achieved. This leadership style works to create a workplace that is safe, supportive, and encouraging, treating people equally, even if they fulfill different roles for the company.
3. It limits department sizes to be more effective.
Instead of forcing one leader to oversee hundreds, if not thousands, of workers as part of their job duties, the facilitative leadership style works to limit group sizes. The goal with this leadership style is to encourage interaction whenever possible. You might still have large groups, but leaders will break them down into sub-groups that can manage specific problems better. This process creates trust because it allows workers to focus on their strengths.
4. It reduces the disharmony created by dissent.
Many workplaces deal with negativity on a regular basis. The response to that negative energy is what leads people toward success or failure. For the facilitative leadership style, there is an invitation to share opinions whenever possible. With different perspectives, it becomes easier to make better decisions. By employing active listening skills, then discussing the benefits of the best ideas, the disharmony created by someone not having an idea used can be minimized. That helps a team to continue moving forward.
5. It focuses on the strengths of each individual.
The facilitative leadership style focuses on three key points: the task at-hand, the development of each worker, and the growth of the company. By keying in on these three goals, it becomes easier for leaders to help workers continue their personal development process. In other leadership styles, the focus tends to be on the welfare of the company and the completion of the work before any attention is paid to employee development.
6. It gives team members an opportunity to experience leadership.
The facilitative leadership style often directs workers to accomplish specific tasks. This allows each worker to take a certain level of ownership because they aren’t being completely micromanaged through the task. This style prefers to have workers who are embracing their creativity and experience than following a specific set of rules to achieve an outcome. By allowing individual ownership over a project, results tend to be better and productivity tends to rise.
7. It invites feedback.
Facilitative leaders are able to make fast decisions if the situation calls for that type of response. Even in that situation, however, a leader has the option to consult with their team to discuss potential options. By inviting feedback from others, leaders are able to set aside an unconscious bias or preconceived notion to focus on the facts that are present. This process allows an entire team to know what is going on, provide meaningful feedback, and feel happy that they were able to contribute something to the process.
8. It helps to reduce worker issues with change.
People experience change every day. Some changes are small, like an adjustment to a morning routine. Some changes are larger, like transitioning from paperwork to digital files. Then there are changes which offer major consequences, like deciding to take a different job. Facilitative leaders are able to understand their direct reports on a deeper level, which allows them to see the impact of change on their lives. This gives them a chance to ease the effects that change may cause, which reduces employee churn.
9. It reduces the negative impact a leadership role creates.
People struggle to know what other people are thinking and feeling when they experience a high level of stress. Even a mild stressor, like a deadline coming up in a couple of days, reduces the ability to think about the minds of others. When leaders come into the environment expecting results, this triggers a negative reaction which naturally leads to a resentment of the leadership position. Facilitative leaders are able to recognize their influence, make and adjustment for it, and reduce the stress people feel because of it.
10. It encourages a methodical approach.
Risks can still be taken when using the facilitative leadership style. Instead of diving into a project with an uncertain outcome, however, facilitative leaders are encouraged to take a methodical approach. They are asked to weigh each potential outcome, the potential risks and rewards, and then proceed when the best value outcome can be achieved.
List of the Disadvantages of a Facilitative Leadership Style
1. This leadership style avoids conflict whenever possible.
Leaders who are working under a facilitative structure do their best to avoid conflict whenever possible. Although they can bring consensus to a team that is experiencing dissent, many leaders tend to avoid dealing with the issue which created the conflict in the first place. Over time, this can affect the productivity of the team, offer perceptions of favoritism, and reduce morale.
2. This leadership style can also create complacency.
One of the key attributes of this leadership style is that the only feedback it offers is positive feedback. That means mistakes are not addressed, as the leader is focused on the positive outcomes that can be taken from each situation. Workers who only receive positive feedback, even when they make a mistake, are more prone to make future mistakes without some form of criticism or correction. When there is no feedback to encourage personal growth, then it is not likely to occur.
3. This leadership style extends the training process.
Instead of using action-based skills, the facilitative leadership style tends to take a listening approach. This can be helpful at times, as it encourages everyone on the team to be on the same page. It also means that it can take more time to communicate, because instead of there being a command-and-receive environment, everyone must come together, make a mutual decision, and then agree on the next steps to take.
4. This leadership style may encourage rebellion.
Instead of taking personal responsibility for the decisions that are made at work, the facilitative leadership style encourages the entire team to be responsible. Because the leader is discouraged from being in full control of any decision, someone with a different leadership style in mind may attempt to take over. When this type of rebellion occurs, it becomes difficult to get work done, because there will always be at least a few who side against the supervisor or manager.
5. This leadership style may devalue the role of leadership.
It can be helpful to have everyone get a taste of leadership when at work. Being in charge of a project, a meeting, or even a group discussion helps to foster growth within that person. In the facilitative leadership style, that can also mean that everyone on a team sees themselves as being a leader. When that happens, disagreement is sure to follow. It creates confusion because one group of “leaders” might want to go in one direction, while the true leader wants to go in another.
The advantages and disadvantages of the facilitative leadership style show us the importance of clear communication and expectations. This leadership style embraces diversity and personal growth, but it must be managed in a way that creates clear role definitions. By offering positive feedback in an instructional manner, it is possible to overcome m any of the shortcomings of this leadership style, so you can focus primarily on its benefits.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.