Wisdom is generally in the business, but it can require a catalyst to bring it to the surface to act on.
Good facilitators must know processes and people.
The principle difference between advisors, consultants, coaches, mentors and a facilitator is that facilitators skills revolve around processes and understanding people.
A good facilitator does not need to understand how a particular business works, but they do need to know how to take the business and its people from where they are now to where they want to go and do it with a minimum of fuss and conflict.
When facilitators learn to use their real strengths instinctively, it is a delight to behold, it is like winning the lottery. They finally feel what it is like to be in the comfort zone and they can facilitate powerfully, with authenticity and with the fun. This is what keeps them focused and engaged.
Rather than wasting time trying to be like someone else, a strengths-based facilitator can use their own unpretentious abilities to develop strengths that will take them to greatness.
“Before you spend a penny on engaging a client, ask yourself if they’re ready, willing and able to listen and act in unison with you”. Peter Sergeant
But how can you figure out your personal attributes to hone your strengths, here are some suggestions:
- Values – It is easy to facilitate when you know the participants have congruent values to yours. The first step is to list and understand your core values, to the point you will quickly recognise them in others.
- Confidence – Your self-confidence and self-assurance only come when you have a high belief in your knowledge and abilities. Confidence also comes from a learned ability to understand people and communicate with them. This starts when we are growing up, but is often neglected as we get older.
- Be yourself – Inspire your clients and workshop participants by simply letting the real you come across in a transparent way. Pretenders and people who strive to be something they are not, or use highfalutin words are quickly spotted. Even if the audience can’t put their finger on it, they can sure feel it.
- Desire – Having desire reveals the presence of a powerful attribute, particularly when they are present early in life, giving you something to build upon. A desire is a sense of longing for a person or object or hoping for the right outcome. When a person desires something, their sense of longing is excited by the enjoyment or the thought, and they want to take actions to obtain their goal. The motivational aspect of desire has long been understood. Without desire, or ambition, it is difficult to even get out of bed in the morning, never mind face a client or deliver a workshop. It is an internal force, that continues to lead you to a particular activity or environment you like and you perform well in.
- Flashes of excellence – You get exhilaration when you have flashes of outstanding performance or others have genuinely observed and mentioned to you. In these moments, some of your greatest attributes are exposed and display your potential for strength.
- Vision – You always have a vision for your future and this vision pulls you forward into tomorrow. Your visioning skills will be invaluable during most facilitation engagements. Being a true entrepreneur also provides you with many valuable attributes when it comes to seeing what is possible. While the exact content of your vision will depend on your other strengths and interests, you are certain to energise others by helping them see your vision of the future as you help them to see theirs.
- Fast learning – You have the innate ability to respond to a new challenge or environment. The speed at which you anticipate the steps of an activity, acquire a new skill, or gain new knowledge is a clue to your aptitude as a facilitator. A key strength of the best facilitators is keeping up-to-date with their particular field of knowledge.
- The sense of timing – Your ability to keep to time limits and an ability to stay focused on the job at hand and not be distracted, or upset, with unruly participants, is an important strength. An activity may be new, or your process may be interrupted, but you instinctively know what comes next and how to handle any situation you find yourself in.
- Satisfaction – This is a key driver to greater heights and is felt during those experiences where the emotional rewards are present. Typically, this comes about after a successful facilitation, or when you have completed an activity with a client which you really like doing. Satisfaction is not merely fleeting gratification, but something that builds up your motivation to aspire to even greater heights.
- Future orientated – Become the kind of person who is always looking at the future, looking for snippets of what the future might hold. This is a strength that will cause people to listen to you and follow you. People who are inspired by the future and what it could be like, inspire others.
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It seems like a long time ago since I first had aspirations of being a facilitator and what that looked like. The picture of what I was hoping to become, as a facilitator, actually came from many different places. During my education, my best teachers were models of what I wanted to become.
My father was a person who loved helping others, so in some ways, I spent my life emulating him. And of course, there were many workshops, seminars and conferences that I went to where I watched some great people and world gurus that enticed me to envision myself as one of them.
The truth is, when I finally did become a facilitator, I realised that as hard as I tried, I could not really be exactly like those role models, great as they were. I started to run workshops and seminars in ways that were most natural to me, understanding that I needed to be able to make adjustments for each participant’s temperament and uniqueness.
After much trial and error, I became more comfortable in my own abilities and capacity as a facilitator, but I always felt like I had never quite reached the success I wanted, particularly when I looked at some of the world’s gurus.
It wasn’t until I learned about the concept of really understanding my personal attributes and strengths, that I realised how I could not only become the best facilitator I could be but also how successful facilitators were able to have the effect they did on other people’s lives.
I found facilitators who could make a difference seemed to be more aware of their innate strengths and were confident in the processes they were presenting at various levels of participant understanding. They could communicate with anybody, irrespective of their station in life.