Facilitating vs. Leading
While masculine energy is all about leading, feminine energy chooses to facilitate. I was recently at a dinner where a newly-retired woman CEO addressed the group. She discussed her career after retir...
Upon reflection, though, I realized our speaker was demonstrating the very best of what feminine energy is all about. It’s collaborative, enabling all to bring forth their unique contributions, while she simultaneously contributed her own talents. Anne Mulcahy, the newly-retired CEO of Xerox, is a perfect example of someone who nudged people from behind rather than getting out in front and being the traditional leader. She brought warmth to the corner office and encouragement to her people at a time of darkness for the company. Her facilitative leadership style was widely cited as a primary factor in making sure the top people at Xerox were interrelated, which created the team they needed to move the company forward.
For business students who someday aspire to be a CEO, it’s something to think about. They study cash-flow statements and learn to calculate an internal rate of return, but they don’t realize how infrequently a CEO actually uses those business skills. In the business world most of the time is spent with the people – customers, employees, unions, reporters, government officials – who have an impact on the company by providing a license to operate, the platform for growth, or the capital for investment. To achieve desired results with these groups, a CEO is best to facilitate rather than lead with a traditional, hierarchical command and control model. I once worked for a man who preached his position to all the audiences listed above, and I squirmed when I watched our special interest groups politely but angrily leave his office. I used to joke that if there was a group he hadn’t ticked off, it was because he hadn’t met them. The traditional leadership model did more harm than good.
Here are a few tips for becoming better facilitators:
1. Encourage others to discover and develop their own capabilities.
2. Listen to the diversity of individual thoughts.
3. Delegate responsibility and decision making.
4. Be open to learning from one another.
Do you agree that facilitating is a different, but equally valuable form of leadership?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
After a highly successful career in business, including 26 years with PotashCorp where she was Senior Vice-President, Betty-Ann retired in 2007, the same year that she was named to Canada‘s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Hall of Fame™. She now works as a speaker, author and mentor and is committed to using her personal and professional experiences to inspire and empower other women. A firm believer in the value women bring to organizations, Betty-Ann explores changing perceptions of male and female roles including candid observations about what she calls "Good Gender Physics” on her blog at www.stillettochick.com. She helps both men and women understand the primary energy of their gender but also accept and appreciate the strengths of their opposite.