Managing peers can be stressful. Remember the “F” Word.

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Here’s a scenario: You are in a group of peers, no one is the defined leader, and someone needs to take charge. You’d like to step forward, but you don’t want to step on anyone’s toes. How can you show yourself as a leader? How can you show yourself as someone who can keep the team moving forward together, without being seen as a “power-grabber”?

The secret? Invoke the “F” word. No, not that one, the other one: Facilitator. As a facilitator you can use the CVI to ask better questions and capitalize on everyone’s strengths.

For instance, in the room you have each of these four archetypes — so invite them to play.

The Innovator – These are the problem solvers; they love to come up with 101 different ways you can do things. So invite them to consider the options! What solutions do we have to solve our problem? Are there any perspectives that haven’t been considered?

The Merchant – These are the “People People.” They’re masterful at visioning, building relationships and responding to conflicting truths. So ask them: are we taking all the people and perspectives into consideration? What are the realities, fears, concerns, hopes and expectations we want to be sure and consider?

The Banker – These are your built-in Sgt. Friday’s, the “facts ma’am, just the facts” kind of people. They’re highly intellectual and knowledgeable, so engage them.  What do we know? What does the data tell us? What resources do we have that could solve this problem? Do we need to do more research?

The Builder – These are the ones with enough faith in themselves that they know the right thing to do when they hear it. And for most of us that aren’t this type, the thought of stepping into that role can be scary; we fear being left holding the bag. So if there is no natural Builder in the room, invite everyone to wear the hat for a moment. Ask: if you had to make the decision, what would it be? Notice, are there commonalities to the answers? Has the best first step been identified — and how can we get started? By sharing the load of the builder, no single person is wholly responsible, but everyone gets heard.

Remember, you are acting as a facilitator, not a decision-maker. It is far less intimidating, far less button-pushing, and way more likely to encourage discussion among your peers — which, ultimately, is better leadership. Go figure.

The key to effective facilitation is ensuring everyone is speaking up & every voice is heard. If someone is quiet or holding back, ask: “Hey, Ellen, I’ve noticed you’ve been quiet/or haven’t been able to get a word in edge-wise. What are you thinking about?

Even in an environment with a very clear leader, these styles of communication and leadership work to bring a team together and accomplish your goals.

Remember, individuals are not well-rounded; teams are well-rounded. Understanding that you have serious holes in your knowledge that other members of your team can help you to fill will help you to see their value, help them feel valued, and recognize all aspects of a challenge without leaving anyone out. And, hopefully, it will keep you from steamrolling each other in meetings.

The art of facilitation lives in the ability to invite everyone out to play.