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This role makes the workplace human...

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

I got to speak with Timm Urschinger at about his perspective in helping company leaders grow. Timm is a leadership development facilitator.

I asked Timm what does he wish for people in organizations. His answer was simply ‘courage’. He feels, especially in larger organizations, courage doesn’t show up so easily. His example is when someone gets laid off. The simple act of others saying they think it’s wrong if they so believe. To speak up. It does not have to be disruptive, or endanger your situation, but have the courage to voice what you believe. This permeates then to other themes.

Along with courage comes action. Timm is still a fan of the ‘Nike management’ motto - Just Do It. A common term the past few years has been Agility. Timm feels the results of talking about Agility are much more robust when people exercise their ‘courage’ and say when they don’t believe in something. Whether you are in a leadership position or not, expressing your views, non-disruptively, from a place of curiosity, creates the kinds of discussions that uncover what people mean when they talk about Agility, it also helps people share their perspectives about problems in their current environment. These discussions lead to much more balanced approaches and better buy-in from all parties.

Along with courage comes authenticity. Timm sees much better results for individuals when they are authentic when being asked sensitive questions. For example, a manager is asked if an upcoming re-org is coming, even if s/he doesn’t know what the re-org means to then express that, to show vulnerability. People will be less inclined to approach you in a combative way and be more collaborative and willing to share their own concerns when asked. Essentially modeling what you want from others.

Timm is also a fan of the Simon Sinek Why How What discussion. Timm’s tip for leaders; express the Why (your team, dept, organization) exists. Just preparing to express that will cause you, the leader, to become clearer about it. Once you express it to your team then be prepared to stay out of the discussion. Let them stumble over and take ownership of the How. Be humble and allow yourself, even if you’re the expert, to say ‘I don’t know the best way for THIS team to deliver on Why we exist, you will have to figure that out.’

One of the challenges in leadership development is helping business leaders to understand the importance of the facilitator’s role. It’s a subtle yet uniquely powerful role. A manager role is a difficult place to facilitate from. A facilitator needs to be neutral in the power relationship with a person or team. A manager inherently has a ‘power’ over others.

An example Timm relates of an individual responding to facilitation:

A man who was an engineer in a very large conservative company, who was clearly not practiced or comfortable discussing or sharing emotions and feelings, at the end of a seminar opened up with personal things, problems with kids, wife. In front of a room of 20 people. It was such a surprise to see him open up this way. His sharing inspired Timm as well as others in the room. It happened due to the facilitated environment and had the ripple effect of helping others in the room to forever become more authentic and open. This demonstrated so wonderfully the ‘journey’ facilitation causes. Timm wants leaders to incorporate more facilitation roles in their organization, with the thinking of creating a journey, rather than an end goal.

An example Timm relates of an organization responding to facilitation:

Timm has been providing facilitation services to a 65k people firm on the journey towards more self-managed environments.

He is seeing topics being discussed that would not have been seen 4 years ago.

Unconscious biases being discussed, are line managers needed, mindset topics which lead to actual behavior changes, which then lead to actual org changes to support the desired mindsets.

It has been causing deeper thinking, causing new clarity, and openness, and vulnerabilities. All inspiring, circling back to the combinatorial effects, which then touches on HR, budgets, global processes, recruiting, and performance management questions.

Timm's excitement and skills and awareness of the many layers facilitation brings to the organization is palpable.

Do you receive the benefit of facilitators in your work?

What is the mix of manager roles vs facilitator roles in your organization?

by John Thompson

About the author

John Thompson works with the PCO Group to coach leaders and help organizations transition to a new organizational model that accelerates human development for the organization’s benefit.

© People Centric Organizations

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