The 5 Qualities of an Awe-Inspiring Level 10 Meeting Facilitator
At a recent workshop at EO in Portland, I was asked who within a company should lead the EOS® (Entrepreneurial Operating System) Level 10 meetings. We know that after a meeting many people feel that they’ve just walked through a corn maze… in the dark… and without a flashlight. The EOS Level 10 meeting facilitator needs to run a tight ship, so not everyone is well-suited for the job.
In any meeting, and in particular Level 10 meetings, the bulk of the responsibility for having the best meeting you’ve ever attended lies with the meeting facilitator.
In EOS, we have a very specific agenda in which check-ins are limited to “done or not done” or “on/off target” without discussion. We reserve two-thirds of the meeting for solving issues. That is, we want you to walk away from every meeting with a deep sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. However, even an EOS meeting can be ravaged by a bad-meeting-virus when that meeting us run by a weak or ineffective facilitator.
The makings of an awe-inspiring meeting facilitator
1. Great facilitation requires empathy
You’re not running the meeting as much as you’re eliciting the best from the meeting’s participants. You listen, probe, and encourage honest, open conversations. You do your best to pick up on any discord, indecision, outright hostility, and especially silence. You’ll watch body language as you listen to those most willing or able to talk, and then you’ll intervene when appropriate.
2. Meeting facilitators don’t need to be liked
Your job is to watch for and name the elephant in the room. Amid the chest-beating and one-upmanship of the participants, you’re listening and watching for it that cannot be named. You’ll see it and name it without dismantling any egos.
3. Strong facilitators play both good cop and bad cop
During most discussions, people become enthralled with their opinions to the point where sharing borders on pontificating. The bad cop part of you is willing to stop discussions before they take root, especially during the first third of the meeting when all you should hear is “done”, “not done, “on track”, and “off track.” As a good cop, you’ll guide your participants to a clear and decisive description of the root cause of the problem. You’ll put a lid on posturing during the discussion. And, finally, you’ll be the hero in helping them devise a plan to solve the issue once and for all.
4. Good facilitators have a high degree of curiosity
We typically see either the pushover or the pusher as the meeting facilitator. Great facilitators are neither. They’re simply curious. They don’t have the answers. Instead, they take deep dives into the brilliance, experience and intelligence of the participants to enable them to arrive at the best answer possible.
5. And, finally, great meeting facilitators want what’s best for everyone
A great meeting won’t give the facilitator more power. He or she won’t win awards, slash the throats of their enemies, or sit in the golden chair. If, at the end of the meeting, the participants rate the meeting a 10 out of 10, they’ll congratulate each other. The great facilitator will watch their self-appreciation with an inner sense of well-being. A successful meeting is its own reward, and being crowned the king or queen of facilitation is not your primary objective.