What Is Facilitative Leadership? (A Comprehensive Guide)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 27, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Choosing an appropriate leadership style that aligns with an organization's needs helps foster improvement. A facilitative leadership approach involves including employees in the decision-making process. Learning more about this leadership style can help you plan an effective leadership practice. In this article, we answer the question, "What is facilitative leadership?", discuss its characteristics, explain strategies to implement this approach, outline its benefits, and highlight the traits of a facilitative leader.

What is facilitative leadership?

Knowing the answer to "What is facilitative leadership?" can help you improve your decision-making process in the workplace. It refers to the process of developing team members' capacities and using their collective expertise to solve business problems. This leadership approach encourages team members to freely share their ideas and opinions and builds rapport in the workplace. A facilitative leadership strategy involves team members at every decision-making level and aims to align their thoughts and contributions with the organizational objectives and goals.

Characteristics of facilitative leadership

A facilitative leader influences and encourages team members to perform their assigned tasks and contribute to the organization's success. These leaders build trust within a team and provide an environment where members can grow professionally. Here are some characteristics of a facilitative leadership strategy:

  • Interest in creativity: Instead of commanding, planning, and directing, the facilitative leadership approach values reflection and creativity. The leader believes that being a collective and sharing ideas makes the team more creative.

  • Interest in team members: Facilitative leadership involves a strong interest in team members' knowledge, proficiencies, and opinions. Using this approach, the leader makes decisions by reaching a consensus and getting support from the team.

  • Concerns relating to members' opinions: A facilitative leader ensures every team member shares their views with their colleagues and acknowledges their reasoning and underlying values to support employees' behaviours and opinions.

  • Coaching and support: In facilitative leadership, the work environment typically provides coaching and support. Leaders encourage interactions where team members can constructively debate and ask questions.

Related: What Is Leadership in an Organization? (With a How-to Guide)

Strategies for facilitative leadership

Here are a few best practices you can follow to implement a facilitative leadership approach:

Aim for active participation

As facilitative leadership involves team members contributing their ideas to a project, process, or department's success, you can implement this approach by encouraging active participation. For instance, instead of solely creating solutions to an inefficient process, you can organize a brainstorming session and allow team members to contribute. Involving the team in planning and decision-making typically ensures the process meets their needs, resulting in a higher success rate. Building employee loyalty may also be more feasible when they feel the organization values their opinions.

Request instead of making demands

To implement a facilitative leadership approach, you can empower team members to complete their assigned tasks in a way that works for them by seeking their input and creating a course of action that facilitates working in a positive environment. This approach is typically different from an authoritative leadership approach involving demands. You can use this strategy to reduce challenges during the production process.

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

Develop relationships

While maintaining distance between team members and colleagues may help demonstrate professionalism, you can consider building a positive relationship based on support and trust. Doing this can help provide constructive opinions and deliver guidance when necessary. Team members may be more likely to act and respond positively to your contributions and feedback when you have a strong relationship with them. Instead of feeling criticized, they may work toward improving based on the input.

Related: How to Improve the Employee vs. Employer Relationship

Stay flexible

You may have a different strategy than your team members concerning solving a problem, but you can implement a facilitative leadership approach by remaining flexible. You can listen to others' opinions and implement systems or processes with space for changes or modifications. Doing this typically aids team development, as flexibility allows members to present creative solutions to problems.

Related: Adaptability and Flexibility: Definition, Tips, and Types

Benefits of facilitative leadership

Here are some of the values a facilitative leadership approach may present to a team or organization:

Creates a positive work environment

With a facilitative leadership strategy, an organization can make employees feel valued, increasing their job satisfaction and creating a positive work environment where they can grow. This positive work environment may reduce employee turnover. Employee turnover describes the total number of employees who leaves a company over a specific period. With a facilitative leadership approach, employees may work effectively with their direct supervisors and colleagues.

Related: How to Create and Maintain a Positive Working Environment

Decreases effects of change

An organization is likely to change its processes or systems over time to improve its efficiency or productivity. With a facilitative leadership style, a leader can help team members manage these changes and guide them through the process because a facilitative leader works toward empowering team members. Even if there are challenges, team members who feel important are more likely to develop coping mechanisms or adjust faster.

Encourages collaboration

A facilitative leader aims to maximize the contributions of team members and operate from a restrained position. This involves taking a systematic approach to decision making to ensure team members' actions produce the best results possible. This encourages collaboration and compels employees to work more productively and smarter, striving to achieve outstanding results.

Related: Promoting Collaboration in the Workplace: All You Need to Know

Creates a sense of ownership for projects

When leaders direct or instruct team members to complete specific tasks, they may not take ownership of the process. It's different with facilitative leadership, as members can receive directions necessary to complete a task without feeling micromanaged, allowing them to take ownership of their ideas and decisions. With facilitative leadership, employees may develop more individualized responsibilities toward projects and processes within their teams.

Improves employees' capacities

Facilitative leaders work toward empowering team members and guiding them to learn and work together, typically increasing productivity in the workplace at an individual and team level. As a facilitative leadership approach aims to include employees of different ranks in the organization's decision-making process, there's an increase in employees' capacity and education. It may also make achieving the company's goals more manageable, as employees are aware of its challenges and are part of the discussions.

Related: How to Improve Your Capacity to Work Independently

Traits of a facilitative leader

Here are several traits with which a facilitative leader directs a team:

  • Attentiveness: A facilitative leader possesses active listening skills to give attention to their team members' opinions and ideas. They use these inputs to implement effective strategies with their team.

  • Creativity: A facilitative leader can foster innovation within a team. They also work toward refining and modifying their team members' suggestions to increase process effectiveness.

  • Fairness: With this trait, a facilitative leader listens to every opinion and idea without demonstrating favouritism, helping to encourage contributions from team members, regardless of their positions.

  • Transparency: Sharing information and presenting the variables of every challenge to team members may make the decision-making process more manageable. A facilitative leader can gather valuable contributions to complete effective strategies with transparency.

  • Flexibility: A facilitative leader typically possesses flexibility skills that enable them to adjust their approach and strategies based on team members' ideas and suggestions, allowing them to modify existing systems and processes to increase efficiency.

  • Organization: A facilitative leader's responsibility is maintaining records of team processes and project complexities. With proper organization, they can record relevant details and prevent project interruptions.

  • Supportive: Facilitative leaders provide employees with the resources to thrive in their careers and personal development. They present feedback, reassurance, and tools employees require to complete their tasks.

  • Decisiveness: As a facilitative leader gathers relevant contributions from team members, being decisive enables them to collate them to create successful strategies.

  • Communicative: With proper communication skills, a facilitative leader can interact with team members and discuss the status of a project or process. It may also be more manageable to provide feedback to employees by communicating effectively.

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