Skillsoft Blog

KnowledgeBooster: Comparing Traditional and Facilitative Leadership

By Russ Howard

Last month, we kicked-off a new e-learning series — KnowledgeBoosters. These are intended to be skills development tips and techniques delivered in “quick hit” fashion, in order to respect the increasing demands for your attention. Each one also will include reference to a relevant course from our e-learning courseware collection, a book and an online article on the topic to allow you to learn more.

We continue the series today with a KnowledgeBooster on traditional versus facilitative leadership.

Traditional leadership tends to be results-oriented, while facilitative leadership focuses on desired outcomes and process. There are some added differences between a traditional leader and a facilitative leader:

  • Traditional leadership tends to operate from a place of power. Actions are driven by external motivation.
  • Facilitative leadership is more like providing a service. Its power comes from the ability to actively engage participants.

Traditional leaders and facilitative leaders operate from opposite paradigms. The following specific examples display the different belief systems between the traditional and facilitative leader.

Problem–solving – A facilitative leader believes it’s his or her job to help a team discover a solution and teaches problem-solving techniques. A traditional leader often attempts to provide all the answers.

Style – A facilitative leader is a consultant available for the team to use as a sounding board for ideas. A traditional leader is inclined to control the ideas of a team.

Communication – The facilitative leader provides full disclosure and checks understanding. The traditional leader determines what information to share and assumes understanding.

Accountability – The facilitative leader knows he owns the problem, but the team owns the solution. The traditional leader believes he is accountable for the answers.

Direction – A facilitative leader is a part of the team and provides input. A traditional leader tries to sell the team on his idea and provide instructions on what’s to be done.

People – For the facilitative leader, people are multifaceted, with bodies, minds, and spirits. The traditional leader tends to focus more on results of the team’s efforts than on the composition of the team.

Morris Shectman in Working Without a Net says, “Caring about people is not synonymous with taking care of people.”

He differentiates between caretaking and caring for. In a way, traditional leadership assumes a long-term transaction – “I’ll do this job forever, if you take care of me.”

Facilitative leadership, however, strives to build relationships where parties have reciprocal interests. It capitalizes on differences instead of spending time creating false similarities or the illusion of security.

Course: Facilitative Leadership

Topic: Traditional Leadership vs. Facilitative Leadership

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