Flexibility is one of the calling cards of a successful facilitator. Like an acclaimed actor, a facilitator must have a range of roles they can play. These can take many forms, including: matching the style, mood, or culture of the group; playing a different role in order to break a pattern or blockage you witness or that you personally fall prey; changing your tone, delivery or methods to serve the interests of the group or to ensure that a process step is successful. Being able to play different roles requires that you have explored many different types, styles, and feelings described by the archetypes in this workbook. It may involve being more directive at times (masculine archetype) and using more empathy (feminine archetype) during others. Like a good actor, you are acutely aware of how you are impacting the group and make adjustments accordingly.
The Shape Shifter Competencies
- Transition into other roles as situation dictates
- Modify behavior/style for gender, personality, culture
Flex Your Role. Effective facilitators shift in and out of the various roles required by their group in any given moment. At times, you may best serve your group by stepping out of the facilitator role into the role of teacher or consultant to contribute an important piece of content to the group. It’s important to let participants know that you’re shifting roles before moving out of the facilitator role. And let them know when you are shifting back again. Don’t get stuck by always being a “purest” facilitator when your group is asking for and needing something else.
Sense Your Impact. Look for non-verbal cues from participants, especially body postures, eye contact, and amount of dead space between comments. This kind of listening is described as listening for depth under the archetype of “The Friend”. Change things up in terms of timing, styles, energy, tone, volume, etc. to help keep your group engaged and the process moving.
Integral Facilitator’s Primer & Self-Assessment. Complete this assessment to determine your level of competency for each of these archetypes, then consider the questions that follow to help you craft a development plan to enhance your skills.
This model is taught in an applied format during our Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration Workshop, a five-day experiential event offered regularly at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and sometimes at other locations throughout the country based on interest and by invitation.