by Larry Lipman
As leaders, it’s not our job to fix anyone or to have any solutions but to empower others to solve their own problems. Our job is to help team members expand the horizons of their awareness, and to facilitate their taking responsibility for their actions and reactions.
Yet when we’re in front of the room facilitating a group or leading a teleconference, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that just because we’re leading, it doesn’t mean that we have to be an authority on the subject at hand. In fact, the amount of brilliance unleashed in our participants may depend on how well we let go of our need to have all the answers.
A wise facilitator once said: “The wisdom in the room is far more important than the sage in front of the room.”
To me, that means excellent leaders pause. Instead of coming to the rescue all the time, a good leader allows his or her team to struggle. During that struggle, new leaders emerge.
If we let go of control and allow others to lead, we will see people empowered and engaged, having more fun, and achieving greater results. It will also take a huge burden off us as leaders, because now we do not need to know everything.
You’re facilitating a group of people focused on accountability issues. One member of the group throws an impossible situation at you. You have no idea how to solve the problem presented. You are really stumped and you don’t know how to respond. If you begin thinking, “Wow, I’m supposed to be the expert sage on accountability here. I need to come up with something brilliant, or change the subject pronto!” Then you’ll probably get stressed out and offer little value to your participants.
But if you decide instead to just admit what’s going on and say for instance, “Hey. You’ve really stumped me with this one. What does this bring up for the rest of you in the group?” You will have actually increased your level of credibility to the group by being honest. You will have empowered the group by seeking their wisdom and insights on the issue. Furthermore, you will get a more balanced perspective on the issue by drawing on everyone’s life experience.
Larry Lipman runs Fun Team Building in Atlanta, Ga.