Facilitation Is The Right Hand Of Leadership Management

Essay add: 16-06-2017, 17:36   /   Views: 21

In this inductive essay, for purposes of clarity, all references to businesses will include organisations. Further, all references to leaders will, unless stated otherwise, refer to managers. The essay will first look at the management tool called facilitation, and the more familiar notion of management leadership. Second, ask, is facilitation and business leadership the same? Third, evaluate theories concerned with leadership, and, important for our purposes here, its implications for facilitation in particular. Last, we will pull the threads of the essay together in assessing the persuasiveness of our conclusion.

David Bennet claims 'Facilitation might be considered an advanced form of collaboration; it is clearly an important strength of leaders' (www.mountain....). Also, management theorists such as Weaver and Farrell assert in the future business leaders will become - or if not use - facilitators (trainers). 'A manager who understands and uses the facilitator role can help the group get the answers it needs' (Weaver and Farrell 1997). Bennet, Weaver and Farrell are painfully vague on the implications of facilitation. However, we can assume and interpret the following implication for businesses. A business will no longer have leaders such as a chief executive or managing director. If this interpretation is true, the effects for the future of businesses using a facilitation approach is unique. Here, it is necessary for clarity to understand and distinguish between the traditional, familiar forms of business leadership - a chief executive or managing director - and the novel idea of facilitation. We turn to the question and ask what is Leadership?

The term leadership has many definitions, and include, from Princeton University, 'A person who rules or guides or inspires others' (www.wordnetweb.princeton....). Or Princeton again 'An act of assisting or making easier the progress or improvement of something' (www.wordnetweb.princeton....). We can agree, though painfully superficial, that here is a general description of leadership. The common definitions on leadership share the following. 'Good communication, trust, and taking effective action to achieve goals' (Bennis, 1986). Again, we can agree with Bennis. Adair (1990) expands on Princeton and Bennis by claiming leadership qualities include creative thinkers, able to coach, and take control. Last, leaders direct others to keep to plans, and give power to others to act. Also, leaders have in common sharing information and appear self-assured, according to Bennis (1989) and Gardner (1989). Both Bennis and Gardner focused on the positive qualities of leadership, without paying attention to any negative features. For some, this makes Bennis and Garner's leadership claims suspect. Suspect, because there is a need to ask do leaders make mistakes?

Yes they do. Leaders throughout history have made mistakes. Early research on leadership focused on those already world leaders. Such leaders were often from the aristocracy because, with few exceptions, few from lower social classes had the opportunity to lead. This general truth has contributed to the view leadership had something to do with breeding. Another competing notion is the Great Man theory. This is, in times of severe social upheaval one of Max Weber's (ideal) leaders will rise and save the people and country. Examples include Churchill, Hitler, and going back further, Jesus (Source plus Weber, 1947). We can see the importance leadership continue to have on society - businesses. And the widespread emphasis placed on the role, and teaching of leadership skills today.

Textbooks on effective and efficient leadership skills agree that resourceful managers must create for the sake of their business - an environment in which employees feel trusted and given control to make the best possible decisions. Widespread sharing of information within a business allows for staff and departments to communicate more effectively with their customers and all others with an interest in the business. In addition, a business that focuses on training and educating its staff, statistically - according to general business literature - increases a business's chances of becoming successful and competitive. Here, we can assume that motivated staff want work based education. We can infer that to feel motivated is largely dependent on leadership. And, in turn, effective leaders recognise the need for an educated workforce to contribute to the future success of the business. Again in turn, leaders are increasingly proving efficient facilitators and trainers.

People who facilitate lead meetings, direct planning retreats - for purposes of team building or moral boosting exercises - or guide work based changes. Those who facilitate rarely have the dual role of being a participant, say in a teaching session, with others. However, people who facilitate are commonly directing and leading others, for example, in a business project. Or leading others to find their own business solutions. In other words, motivating others to identify and resolve problems. We must ask here, in what way does the role of facilitation in business motivate others?

Arguably, employee motivation is essential in affecting successful business performance. Let us assume that leaders may not be the root of positive motivation for an employee - but are, as we know, potentially the source of demotivation for all employees. What is the implications, then, for employee motivation? Weber argued for an (ideal-type) authority he called traditional (leadership) (Weber, 1947). Herzberg (2008), called traditional (leadership) motivation tactics K.I.T.A., kick in the ass. Herzberg used the analogy of a dog's owner and the owner's dog. (Herzberg used sexist language that we have changed here.) According to Herzberg, a dog's owner will motivate his or her dog to move by offering a treat - by offering inducements to cooperate. To mould Herzberg's analogy for our purposes; leaders can motivate their workforce, and the workforce's motivation improves by relevant training (inducements), assert Dale and Bunney (2008). We can be further correct in thinking, and the literature on workforce motivation supports us, that employees choosing to train is a quality needing encouragement from businesses. When employees decide, the implication is leaders must actively encourage and motivate this decision making- and have the necessary training to affect change in the business to everyone's benefit. Today’s leader or those that facilitate major change, want to create teamwork - all working towards the same goal - beyond the historical and traditional leader. In other words, and complementing Mullins (2001), leadership - and now the role of facilitation - as discussed so far, is about influencing the behaviour and actions of people.

Because of our assessment so far, we can say with some confidence that skilled facilitators, trainers, are effective leaders. Leading through facilitation is different from leadership. Why? Because the team assumes responsibility for results. This is a significant difference between leadership in general and the role of a facilitator. Further, the presence of facilitation avoids familiar management tools such as carrot and stick - punishment and motivation. Coined by Hertzberg (1959), stressing a thought shared by the group of let us (as a team) achieve our goal. The team shares a common focus, and feel involved in setting goals and self-direction. A result of this view is teams do not make changes - but teamwork does. We will make the following claim as follows. Facilitation, unlike leadership, is by definition where people freely become involved. The facilitator, trainer, shares the same time and space as the participants he or she aims to steer. The facilitator has to be present: leaders necessarily do not. However, and as we know, the position between a leader and a facilitator is close. One result is the leader and facilitator work intimately together. In other words, the facilitator, or trainer, role is the right-hand of leadership. Meaning? Tentatively put, a committed partnership, working closely together. Also, fully cooperating to carry out shared goals.

Where have we come to? Bennett stresses the collaborative quality of a facilitator for managers. We learn from Princeton, Weaver and Farrell the value facilitation brings to businesses making progress. We interpret Bennis saying how management and facilitators (trainers) aim to achieve common goals. Last, Adair highlights how management and facilitators guide and give control to employees to be successful in shared targets. We have argued, leadership, business management, aims to create a motivated and trained workforce for the benefit of the business. A role we are seeing increasingly shared by that of the facilitator. Both leaders and facilitators aim to increase both productivity and profit within their business. However, their roles are significantly different. Leaders can lead, if necessary but not perhaps satisfactory, from afar: facilitators, trainers, cannot. Again, the role of a facilitator is to guide and direct - up close and personal. We can see, therefore, the intimate connection between a leader and facilitator. Because both need each other to perform their shared business aims. Only further study will show whether the thesis and conclusion in this paper is true. We will see.

Word count 1678.


Adair, J. (1990). Understanding Motivation. United Kingdom: Talbot Press.

Bennis, W. G. (1989). On Becoming A Leader. United Kingdom: Random Century.

Bennis, W. G., and Nanus, B. (1986). Leaders: the strategies for taking charge. United States:‎ Harper & Row.

Dale, B., and Bunney, H. (1999). Total Quality Management Blueprint. United States: Blackwell.

Gardner, J. (1989). On Leadership. New York: Free Press.

Herzberg, F. (2008). One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees? United States: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Hertzberg, F. (1959). The Motivation to Work. New York: Wiley.

Mullins, L. J. (2001). Management and Organisational Behaviour. United Kingdom: Financial Times and Prentice Hall.

Schein, E. (1993). Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco: Bass.

Weaver, R.G., and Farrell, J.D. (1997). Managers as Facilitators. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.

Weber, M. (1947). The Theory of Social and Economic Organizations. New York: Free press.


Assessed on 10/02/2010



Accessed on 25/02/2010

Article name: Facilitation Is The Right Hand Of Leadership Management essay, research paper, dissertation