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The 9 disciplines of a good facilitator.

For facilitation to be effective the facilitator needs to master 9 disciplines according to Jon and Maureen Jenkins.

1. The discipline of detachment.

The facilitative leader starts with detachment from things, ideas, need for control, power, and recognition. The leader needs to be able to separate the leadership role from his or her ego.

2. The discipline of engagement.

The discipline of engagement by the leader sparks willingness and enthusiasm on the part of the group to select and carry out a new direction and to keep going in the face of adversity.

3. The discipline of focus

It is concentrating the will so that the moment is fulfilled and the future is also fulfilled, like two lenses that merge into one clear image. Focus is the result of the combination of attention to both immediate and future issues.

4. The discipline of wisdom.

In any group interaction, there are all sorts of dynamics at play—short and long term, things not related to the issue on the table, politics, cultural differences, personalities, and so on. In order for the group to achieve its purpose, the facilitative leader needs to continuously balance the conflicting dynamics, and understand without thinking about it where things need to go next. It is here that building the discipline of Focus becomes critical.

5. The discipline of intention

The discipline of controlling what you want.

As a facilitative leader, you hold an obligation to achieve what the group intends. This can be exhausting. Building intentionality is needed so that you can keep on wanting and wanting again what needs to be done.

6. The discipline of wonder.

The discipline to embrace the unknown.

People who fear embrace what is already known because the fear the unknown.

They lack the courage to progress.

Progress lies not in the known but in the unknown.

You need drive, commitment and creativity.

7. The discipline of awareness.

Awareness is developing the capacity to confront the truth of a situation in all of its relevant dimensions. Being aware is having the courage to be wise, sophisticated, and subtle.

In the same moment one holds a respect—even reverence—for others.

For a group to function effectively, all of the relevant information about the situation needs to be on the table.

Because of her commitment to the truth, the facilitative leader pushes the group to ensure that every bit of information needed is brought to bear on their decisions.

Just as a leader can permit a group to compromise its integrity, so also a leader can insist that a group bases its decisions on the best truth it can muster.

8. The discipline of action.

The discipline of Action is exercising the self-control needed to be effective while assuming only the power to influence. This has to do with finding the locus point at which the action is most effective. Action is discovering those things to do that transform the situation so that you can carry out your convictions. The facilitative leader enables people to act in such a way that the potential inherent in the moment is realized.

9. The discipline of presence.

Presence is charisma, inspiring and evoking spirit in others.

The discipline of Presence is when an individual stands between a profound understanding of what is going on in life, what we call here the discipline of Awareness, and effectively acting out that understanding with courage and creativity, as we call here the discipline of Action.

Awareness is challenged and refined in the real world, and Action is informed and corrected by profound understanding and reflection.


The 9 Disciplines of a Facilitator, Leading Groups by Transforming Yourself, Jon C. Jenkins Maureen R. Jenkins, Wiley, San Francisco,  p. 5

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