Why Facilitative Leadership is More Important than Ever

August 16, 2022
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Every CEO, whether they’ve had a day or a decade of experience, has their own unique style of managing their teams and their organization. From a simple conversation in passing to running a meeting with the senior leadership team, every moment and every choice matters when you’re in charge. 

Every responsibility and objective you have affects everyone who makes up your business. Does your style make you a boss? Or does it make you a leader? 

Many of the decisions that define a leader have been forced upon CEOs as they have navigated the turbulence of recent years. Adapting around people, trusting in your teams as they work separated by geography, and allowing employees to use their time flexibly around other responsibilities have changed the nature of leadership.

For some, these choices were strictly based upon numbers. For others, they recognized that they had an obligation to look after their people. A more facilitative way of engaging with our teams is needed.

In our recent Movers and Shapers podcast, I spoke to Sir Simon Baron-Cohen about what can bring us together as working from home prevents more traditional methods of unity. Facilitative leadership is all about connecting with your employees by actively listening and absorbing their thoughts and experience. This shared contribution becomes the driving force behind company visions with goals set out based on mutual understanding and input. 

This is why having a varied and dynamic team is so important. Not just because developing an inclusive environment ensures the safety and respect of your people, but because facilitative leaders can embrace a wider range of ideas from their organization. By fostering a business that cultivates a diverse workforce, you also cultivate diverse thoughts. This is crucial in escaping individualistic and myopic thinking to which traditionalist leadership can lead. 

Because of our new working patterns, facilitative leadership can be challenging to achieve, but as it becomes more difficult, it also becomes more important. Not just as a method of increasing production or morale, but as an acceptance of what people, both employees and the general public, now want to see from CEOs. 

Active listening and understanding, providing clear direction, building team collaboration, engaging with the diverse voices of your business, and ensuring everyone knows what role they play is clear—these traits could describe an ideal politician. But today? They describe a CEO who knows the responsibility of filling the space left by other authorities. 

In our current climate, business has surpassed government and NGOs in trustworthiness. 60 percent of employees want their CEOs to speak out on controversial issues, and 80 percent of the general population want CEOs to be transparent. People want to see leaders they can believe in who shape the world and benefit society. 

Becoming a leader like this starts at the micro level. The old ways of managing businesses are no longer tenable, and your role as a CEO has been redefined. It’s time to make a decision. Do you want to be a boss? Or do you want to be a leader? Become a facilitative leader and answer the call that employees and society are asking for. Become the change we all want to see. 



To learn more about the conversations illuminating the job of the CEO in today’s world, Joanna Starek shares her thoughts in her post What CEOs Are Talking About Right Now. 

Orla Leonard is a senior partner in RHR International’s London office and the head of the Team Effectiveness practice. She is known as an energetic, creative, and solutions-focused leader as well as a highly effective executive coach.