Creating a “facilitating environment” is a key component of leadership. And, as I suggest leadership is an approach, an attitude, rather than a job description, it is something any and everyone the team can contribute to.
The point of developing and nurturing a facilitating environment in the workplace is that it is the approach more likely to encourage (ie, facilitate) the success of the individual, of the team and of the enterprise than any other approach.
The “facilitating environment” is a rather clunky term (and not the only one) coined by the paediatric psychiatrist, DW Winnicott. Also referred to as a “holding environment”, it refers to the context or environment which a “good enough” mother is able to create for her baby to live and grow in, the idea being that this is sufficient in itself to facilitate the baby’s maturation. Note that neither the mother, nor the environment she creates, can do the maturation for the child. Note, too, that the child only needs the mother to be “good enough” (another Winnicott term), though “good enough” does include the word “good” and not the word “rubbish”.
However, as the child grows, so the environment becomes less and less significant and eventually falls away. A mother with a number children of different ages has to juggle different facilitating environments for the different children: the sort of thing which, if she were actually aware of what she was doing, she would probably become so self-conscious that she’d drop the baby.
The parallels with project management are immediately clear, surely. The facilitating environment in work is the outward manifestation of the leader, just as in the family it is the outward manifestation of the mother’s capacity for nurture. The leader only has to be “good enough”, too: (a) perfectionism is always a block to prevent the individual moving forward (“I can’t go onto the next thing, because I haven’t got this one right, yet”); (b) most businesses only need a good enough performance most of the time.
Ultimately, if a team were stable for long enough, one can imagine the leader’s involvement diminishing as the team got better and better. In reality, teams aren’t that stable for periods of years, so this never happens. But, in principle, just as mothers create people (all of whom having the capacity to be parents), so leaders create leaders.
> What is a “facilitating environment”?
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2016 Jeremy Marchant Limited . uploaded 26 january 2016. image: Free images
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