Adaptive Leadership &The Possibilities of Small Groups: Facilitation, Dialogue, Cohesion, and Co-Construction (Responsibilities, Behaviors, Challenges) Jane Lister Reis North Seattle Community College OPENING EXERCISE When you think of the word “leader”, what image comes immediately to your mind? Jot down the words that describe your image and then share with your group. Compile a composite leadership image to share with the class. What do we discover? A New Understanding of Leadership An image of a today’s leader is not a top-down one, but one in which the leader is a “resonant and responsive node in a dynamic network or field of energy and an agent of emergent possibility” (Daloz Parks, Sharon. Leadership Can Be Taught, x-xi). “Facilitation is a way of providing leadership without taking the reins. As a facilitator, your job is to get others to assume responsibility and take the lead” (Bens 2000). My learning about group facilitation came from the river: Concept of Balance Small Groups are organic living systems that need tending, seek balance, and function best with diversity. Like a swamp, they are complex, contain many hidden elements, are important for our survival, and function interdependently. Facilitator Attributes1 At Start • PROCESS—structure – “organized” – “sense of direction,” “goal orientation” At End 23 21 • CONTENT—FLC focus, outcomes – “knowledgeable” – “enthusiastic,” passionate about teaching/learning – “curious,” “eager to learn” • RELATIONSHIPS—harmonizer, “soft skills” – – – – “listener” “open,” “non-judgmental” “assertive,” “firm,” “courageous” “motivator,” “personable” 1Qualitative 17 16 46 77 Study done at Otterbein College, Leslie Ortquist-Ahrens, 2008 Facilitator as Adaptive and Collective Leader1 Four concepts: • Authority vs. Leadership • Technical Problems vs. Adaptive Challenges • Power vs. Progress • Personality vs. Presence 1Leadership Can Be Taught, Sharon Daloz Parks Authority vs. Leadership “Today’s complex conditions require acts of leadership that assist people in moving beyond the edge of familiar patterns into the unknown terrain of greater complexity, new learning, and new behaviors, usually requiring loss, grief, conflict, risk, stress, and creativity” (Daloz Parks, 9). Technical Problems vs. Adaptive Challenges “Adaptive challenges often appear as swamp issues — tangled, complex problems composed of multiple systems that resist technical analysis and thus stand in contrast to the high, hard ground issues that are easier to address, but where less is at stake” (Daloz Parks, 10). Power vs. Progress “When leadership is understood as an activity, there is less attention to be paid to the transactions of power and influence and more attention given to the question of whether or not progress is being made on swamp issues” (Daloz Parks, 10). Personality vs. Presence “…the multifaceted capacity to be present becomes a key factor in effective leadership: the quality of one’s capacity to be fully present, comprehend what is happening, hold steady in the field of action, and make choices about when and how to intervene in ways that help the group make progress on swamp issues” (Daloz Parks, 11). Questions about Facilitator as Adaptive and Collective Leader? • Authority vs. Leadership – do you want to rotate the role? • Technical Problems vs. Adaptive Challenges – what is the adaptive challenge your group faces? • Power vs. Progress – how will you measure progress? • Personality vs. Presence – how will you stay present? What group activities will keep your group focused, present and on task? (Social and Task Balance in Groups) Elements of a Strong Holding Environment: Creating a Living Field • How do we create a safe, respectful environment (where our most authentic selves can be present)? • Co-constructing a shared commitment to the vision, goal and process of the group • What will keep us present and focused? Maintaining clarity and depth of common purpose Creating a Cohesive, Interconnected Group Individual task: Reflect upon your participation in a group you are currently in. List the strengths you wish to hold onto and contribute (your natural abilities) List what qualities you would like to build on and practice in the future? (your growing edge) What norms or values will ensure you fully participate? (together these create your success plan) Role of Reflection Group task: Share your lists with others in your group. Build a “group success plan” that lists your group’s norms and values. This list should be generated from a process of listening and dialogue. References Bens, Ingrid. Advanced Facilitation Strategies: Tools & Techniques to Master Difficult Situations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 2005. Print. Daloz Parks, Sharon. Leadership Can Be Taught: A Bold Approach for a Complex World. Harvard Business School Press, Boston, 2005. Print.