Critical Skills for Success... PDF Print E-mail

September 2016 - The FoCuSeD™ Facilitator eNewsletter

21st century


Critical Skills for Success... | Gary Rush Facilitation

I heard an excellent keynote presentation at the Central Indiana IIBA Business Analyst Development Day (INBADD) given by Carla Taylor of IDEAvize regarding “The Future of Work”. What I find fascinating is that the skills she listed as “critical skills for success” in the coming Collaboration Revolution of 2020 are the same skills I teach in my 5-day FoCuSeD™ Facilitator Academy class. These are facilitation skills that apply in business and in life.

Critical Skills for Success

Carla listed the following skills; let’s explore:

  • Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence
  • Connect In: Building your network / virtual team
  • Team-building and Trust
  • Communication Skills
  • Critical Thinking
  • Innovative Problem-solving
  • Collaborative Solutions


Self-Awareness and Emotional Intelligence

I teach creating self-awareness, which allows students to improve through awareness. When debriefing a student’s final facilitation case study, I first ask him or her, “What do you think?” I want the student to be aware of what he or she did and its impact on the group to reinforce the learning.

I discuss Emotional Intelligence (the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically) teaching “how to” deal with anger, give feedback, understand people and their motivations, understand the impact of diversity, and manage conflict. When facilitating, you also need to be aware, through observation and active listening, of the people, ensuring all participate. Note: Observation and Active Listening are critical skills for emotional intelligence.

Connect In: Building your network / virtual team

Developing a virtual team requires a different approach – unlike face-to-face communication, team-building is much more difficult: people communicate 55% through facial expression that you lose in virtual teams (even with video conferences, visibility is limited). With virtual teams, you also lose face-to-face small talk, which lays the foundation for co-workers to see each other as people, increasing trust. I teach “how to” facilitate effective and productive virtual workshops / meetings and the challenges virtual teams face. I cover building trust because without trust, there is no team. Note: Trust is critical for team-building to happen.

Team-building and Trust

This is a core skill for a Facilitator. I cover two models of how teams evolve and the key characteristics that make a team – trust being the foundational characteristic because it removes defensive barriers. Team-building is core to my FoCuSeD™ Holistic Facilitation Process Design – I don’t believe that team-building and the workshop/meeting process are separate – a group becomes a team only when everyone comes together for the greater whole –teamwork happens.

Communication Skills

This also is a core skill for a Facilitator. Knowing “how to” present yourself to enhance your communication skills ensures that, what is said, is heard and understood. I teach “how to” present yourself and clearly communicate your message and “how to” actively listen for effective comprehension through physical, tangible actions, and words.

Critical Thinking

I teach this as part of Active Listening. Critical Thinking is actively listening and feeding back – pulling together the fragments of the message into a whole to form a better understanding helping the people synthesize what has been said – often having significant impact on their ideas. Note: Your ability to synthesize grows with experience, as you are better able to pull together the fragments of the message into a whole.

Innovative Problem-Solving

I provide students with numerous tools to look at a situation, determine what needs to change, and what to do to change it. I include defined annotated processes to use to solve problems along with tools to help stimulate creative ideation. Note: To be innovative requires understanding that you need PTS (Permission To Suck) without judgment and knowing “how to” use tools, such as Brainstorming, Cognitivity, Creativity Breaks, etc., to stimulate ideation.

Collaborative Solutions

Consensus is essential to collaboration and I define “consensus” and “how to” guide a group to consensus. Collaboration is defined as, people working together to reach a common goal and it is important to understand that a group does not collaborate without a reason – they collaborate to accomplish something.


Leaders who have developed these skills are the ideal role of the “Servant Leader” – the Leader of the future. As we move towards an era when outsourcing is commonplace, co-creating, co-working, and the gig economy increases, the above skills become more critical. The ability to bring people together and accomplish good work in business and in life – facilitation skills – is a skill set that cannot be outsourced. Increasingly, these skills are being included as core competencies in many job roles because people develop better ideas that benefit the greater whole. These skills are the most important skills to develop in the 21st Century. gary rush facilitation.



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