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Part 1: The Tensions of Leader as Facilitator

1. The Tension of Knowledge and Growth

In our youth our life is bent around the acquiring of knowledge. We are like fresh sponges that soak up so much of what we don't know and we often questioned what use this knowledge would be when we are adults.

I remember hearing the mixed perspectives on knowledge:

" My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

" Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." the Bible

There you have it, as in so much of life rarely is it about either/or, it is more about both /and. Here we recognize we need knowledge and yet it must not be the dividing factor between us and the people we seek to serve.

As a leader who facilitates, you know your people need a certain amount of knowledge for the work they have been hired to accomplish. That often comes through two streams. The first is training which is skill oriented and focuses on skills needed to accomplish the desired outcomes. The second is professional development which focuses on the growth of the person in order to lead through situations and work well and effectively with people.

Skill training is often technical or what is referred to as hard skills and professional development is often focused on our self-awareness, other-awareness and how we can lead socially and relationally to positive outcomes. These are often referred to as soft skills. Daniel Goleman brought soft skills to a whole new level when he gave common understanding or knowledge to the term Emotional Intelligence. EQ is by far the defining difference to success and failure in the practice of leadership.

And then we face the tension of growth as an outcome to learning. Knowledge on it's own does not create a sense of fulfillment. It is when that knowledge resonates with something within us that causes us to step out of our comfort zones and embrace change while engaging in the discomfort of the known.

Growth causes us to look back and see where we have come from and know that we can reach the destination we are aiming for. Time and again we are given the opportunity to reach beyond what we know in this moment, embrace a new understanding of what we can be moving forward. This does not diminish what we have known, it builds on the foundation of what can be. It takes courage, the feedback of both caution and celebration and a willingness to face the journey with authenticity and grace.

The tension is not in the fact that both are needed. The tension comes in what takes priority when, with who and why is that important. Our next dilemma is, do we have the resources for this now? If both are needed, take a moment to consider which kind of investment you need first of all - knowledge and/or growth and why is that important now? As you figure your way forward, it then opens space for others to move forward as well. It isn't about one size fits all but about seeing each person for what they bring and what they need to accomplish what you hired them to do. I encourage you to take on the challenge of creating a dynamic and growing staff culture.

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