Facilitators Don't Tell...



Today I received an email from a dear friend. I’ll be facilitating a “leadership values” key note for his team soon. He required some additional information in advance of my presentation.

Seemed simple enough.

Well, my friend’s manager wanted to know exactly what content would be delivered during my ‘talk’. What would I be saying? What would I be telling the attendees?

Look, I understand the need to affect a measure of control in a managerial sense. I understand the need to ensure content, material, subject matter etc. is appropriate and relevant. But leadership values must be organic, or they won’t be worth the paper they’ll be printed on.

No matter what social media post, or top ten list you've viewed, I assure you, there is no prescribed ‘right’ set of values a leader must have to be successful. There are only those that work (or don’t) within the environment they are operating in.

That’s why every great coach, may not be equally great on every team.

My intent during the talk (as it always is) will be to ensure participants are ‘real’ about what values mattered to them and their team; and them alone. Anything else would be a forced work of fiction.

Much of my work life over the past 20 years has been spent as a Leadership facilitator and so much of my success lies at the feet of those that have put their trust in my confidence. I begin every presentation with some variation of, “… folks, you’ll notice there are no blue birds sitting on my shoulders; this is not a Disney movie; work rarely is.”

I say this, because I ask everyone during my programs to embrace ‘Vegas’. The effect of trusting me enough to openly share the real challenges they face in the workforce, as managers, and “as the managed”. It isn’t difficult to get people to open up (if) they believe that “what happens in Vegas will stay in Vegas”.

I’d have no credibility if it didn’t.

Teams looking to establish the core values they will expected to collectively hold near and dear, must be allowed to break down the realities of their workplace. People need and want to vent; so they can begin to constructively build back up.

They want and need to get real.

So instead of hoping for dialogue from best practice bullet points on a screen, I prefer to speak to times when I fell down as a leader, or when I was let down as a follower; and allow the audience to do the same. I want to encourage people to arrive at leadership values that reflect their reality – not a manufactured one.

So to my friend, I said simply, “… tell your boss, I don’t intend to ‘tell them’ anything. They’ll tell me.”

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