Stepping into the Facilitator Role

iChange Collaborative - We offer inclusivity consulting and training workshops to businesses, schools, community organizations, and government agencies.

Dr. Danielle Stewart

When you step into the role of facilitator, you step into the center of this beautiful, transformative change work. The work of cultivating empathy, building and sustaining connections, and creating communities of love and support is the heart of diversity, equity and inclusion leadership. Some of us resist stepping into the facilitator role due to feelings of inadequacies. Despite how we feel, however, we reluctantly find our way into facilitation because these conversations are essential to moving us closer the changes we are collectively working towards.

I never envisioned myself as a facilitator. I, perhaps like you, considered myself only a person who was passionate about having these thought provoking conversations. Yet I was also passionate about supporting others who were invested in making equity a reality. When I first began working in this capacity, I had many reservations that stemmed from my own assumptions: Fear of saying the “wrong thing,” or misinterpreting information. Then there was the chance that I might be a failure.

I later discovered that despite all my fears, my ability and willingness to just be present and to commit to this work was enough. Through that realization, I discovered this beauty of this space.  Many of us feel we are inadequate in the facilitator role, but the reality is that we cannot find our strengths as facilitators until we are willing to take the risk.

The stance of a good facilitator is the constant dedication to leaning into the discomfort to provide support for those who find themselves drawn to this work. The majority of facilitation I do is with affinity groups. I have hosted a virtual affinity group for educators of color for the past eight years, and over the years, we’ve built a strong and supportive community. It can take time to assess what is unique to each group and each conversation. Healthy engagement is promoted through the invitation I extend to others to share their knowledge and opinions with one another based on their individual experiences and comfort levels. I not only appreciate the facilitation process, but I encourage others in the groups to try out facilitation skills during our sessions as well.

Over time, it has become more apparent that my own facilitator superpower is my willingness to be vulnerable. This is where I model my commitment to learn and grow in this capacity.

There is no secret formula for successful facilitation but there are a few best practices.

♦ Know your own truth. Honor what you believe in and stay true to yourself.

♦ Be clear about why you are doing this work.

♦ Honor your own boundaries. Be patient with yourself as you navigate through this role. You may make mistakes, but you will learn from them.

♦ Learn your own superpower as a facilitator. We are all unique and have diverse talents and gifts. There are many ways to facilitate these conversations, and you’ll find your own special way.

♦ Accept the truths of others as a gift. When people to trust us with their stories, we are rewarded with deep understanding, empathy, insight, and sustained connections.

♦ Celebrate the connections you make. The beauty of the relationships we are building are cultivating thriving communities everywhere.

In conclusion, this work exists because of you. You move it forward with every conversation you facilitate.



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