Sapiential leadership

Posted on by Brandon Klein


Conventional facilitation techniques usually provide facilitators or discussion leaders for each breakout groups. They tend to steer groups because their job is to get them to a solution, and usually the driver will go to their answer. Engagement teams and project teams frequently come to a session with a detailed list of outcomes they need or decisions that have to get made in order to progress. They will often assign people to be sure that those calls get made. 



Sapiential leadership means that the leadership a group needs will emerge when it is needed. In our context it means that if you give groups un-facilitated instructions, they will create the leadership they need to get the work done.

There are times where a group will need facilitation or some kind of intervention to get past being stuck. That prod can come from the facilitator, but it can also come from the team finding out that they are way behind, a push from one of the sponsors or some other source. Create ways for the organization to facilitate itself and break through its own barriers. They will create the information that the engagement team needs to answer.

Be careful with laundry lists of questions. They can box in thinking the same way that a template can. In one event, each team had a specific list of questions from the project team. When they completed their question, they figured they were done, and were generally unwilling to take the design any further, even with several hours of Act day remaining. The laundry list comprised the limit at which they could stop thinking.

Organizations can project leadership onto an individual if they feel they need that leadership—you can look for ways to create very visible and public assuming of a mantle of leadership by an individual, and sometimes it emerges unlooked for.

Also see Sapiential Leadership by Gail Taylor