Top 10 Qualities Of A Great Facilitator

Top 10 Qualities Of A Great Facilitator - Infographic

Top 10 Qualities Of A Great Facilitator—Infographic

How to be a good facilitator

Internal facilitators can save time and reduce the complexity of getting an outside facilitator up-to-speed on your business, internal language, team members and nuance of operations. Just because they are a great leader doesn't mean that they have all the qualities of good facilitator and can drive you to the desired outcome of your planning session.  At first glance, it appears a good move, so let me get you P-A-I-D U-P on the additional reasons to get your senior leaders out of the facilitation process:

P – Participation.  No one can fully participate in the process and discussions while also holding the duties of facilitating – no matter how good their skill. Using a facilitator who isn’t part of the session creates an “even” playing field, allowing all individuals to participate fully.

A – Accountable. Each participant has the same expectations and is accountable for the same level of preparation and engagement. 

I – Impartial. Personal agendas, past history, and patterns of communication are often a detriment in planning. An impartial facilitator can recognize the cues and help to control missteps.

D – Discipline. Disciplines of time, respect, outcomes, commitments and more will increase with measurement – especially when facilitated by someone not part of the session.

U – Usual. Facilitators who are not normally part of your week-to-week meetings probably won’t be satisfied with your “usual” outcomes. They’re more likely to press for well thought through (and defended) results rather than settle for less.

P – Probe. External facilitators can more likely probe for real answers without risking offense. This is not always the case for a peer. This approach helps keep discussions challenging and professional while delivering a better outcome.

Now that you’ve P-A-I-D U-P, consider the complexity of your planning session. How complicated is the scope of your session and how much effort is required to prepare, manage, and deliver objectives?


This could include your industry, team knowledge, economic conditions, and current business challenges. What’s the objective of the session and how complex will the path be to get there?  How will you keep the needed energy levels up and the team focused?

Time and Effort

How much preparation effort will be needed? Is the facilitator familiar with your planning methodology? Will they need time with the CEO or senior team members in preparation? Have you allowed the internal facilitator time to prepare within their daily schedule?  Excellent facilitators will know your methodology and be prepared for the strategy meeting with every leadership team member prepared.

The answers to the questions on complexity and effort will help you think through who might be your best internal facilitation candidate. And, your next consideration should be the characteristics of a good facilitator. Choose a person who will be objective and neutral throughout the process. This will allow key individuals to participate fully in the listening, thinking, observing, and participation needed for business planning success.  Listening skills are extremely valuable when facilitating a meeting with a large group.

To help you choose, here are the Top 10 Qualities of a good facilitator:

  1. Ability to stimulate interaction without bias
  2. Skill to create and maintain a safe environment for all to be engaged in the discussion
  3. Good listening habits
  4. Has a natural gift for providing structure for discussion (parameters, objectives, time boundaries, etc.)
  5. Fearless in questioning to challenge thinking and create new possibilities while not steering the discussion or offering opinion
  6. Is more proactive rather than reactive in groups
  7. Is not rigid in process and will allow necessary conversation to happen for forward progress
  8. Can connect with the group
  9. Will hold the group accountable to the clock
  10. Has a high level of social intelligence
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