Frequently Asked Questions

“What is participatory leadership?”

Participatory Leadership is a structured process including tools, methods, design-thinking and a systems approach to galvanizing group and organisational dynamics. While focussed on groups, it scales from the individual to teams, to whole organizations and communities.  The approach has been used to deliver alignment and action in complex situations through deep, facilitated conversations.
The workshop builds on ideas and talents latent in your organization inviting people to engage across boundaries and fuelling energy for growth.

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What language will the workshop be held in?

While the primary language in the workshop will be English, the hosting team is international and most of its members speak French – several of them are native French speakers.
As by far the largest proportion of the workshop is participatory, we have found that the participants are able to express themselves in the language they prefer, and we together ensure understanding. That said, a working knowledge of English is still necessary as there is no real opportunity for simultaneous translation.
While the theoretical portions of the workshop will be in English, there will be opportunities for small group discussions to be held in French. It is also possible to sit with a member of the hosting team during a lecture to get clarification on particular concepts.
The workbook is available in both French and English to support understanding.

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“What is the Art of Participatory Leadership?”

The Art of Participatory Leadership is a distillation of participatory practices designed particularly for organisations.  It is designed to help teams break through politics and conflicting priorities, and transform their tensions into aligned action.  While practicing methods and techniques, teams also develop project prototypes, test them with peers, and refine them for implementation.  Participants practice the techniques for enriching understanding and opening up possibilities, before winnowing down and driving to action.  They thus learn how to design a sequence of activities that together help them meet the business’s goals.

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“What is the Art of Hosting and where did it come from?”

The Art of Hosting is an approach to leadership that scales up from the personal to the systemic using personal practice, dialogue, facilitation and the co-creation of innovation to address complex challenges.
It is a fusion of some very powerful participatory facilitation tools (Appreciative Inquiry, World Café, Open Space Technology and Circle work). Each of these practices is powerful in its own right and has been in use for more than 20 years, with international practitioner communities and solid case study examples. Many of these practices came out of the need for radical change. Used together, they are a flexible way to help people lead and help groups to come into connection and deep conversation and action fast. It has come from a group of practitioners who were looking for ways to support the people they were working with to work at the boundary of connection and innovation.

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“How does Participatory Leadership fit into Hosting?”

Organisations are becoming more complex, issues are becoming more interdependent, and changes are happening more quickly. Unless people affected understand how they fit in now, what needs to change, and how they can help make change happen, things get stuck in confusion. Be it reorganisation or engaging various stakeholder groups: while it can feel like decisions were taken once the meeting’s over, they don’t seem to stick. Learning to work with people in a way that keeps information and understanding visible and actionable is what hosting is all about.

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“But what do you mean by “hosting”?”

We’ve noticed that plenty of people hold meetings, many people lead meetings, and some people facilitate meetings. But there aren’t many meeting spaces where people step in, step up and take action together. This demands a different way of working and a different type of container to work in. The word “hosting” indicates a different kind of approach. Being a good host means making sure people are looked after well so that they can do their best work together and step onto common ground. We’ve all been to meetings that have been well managed, but not well hosted, and often the result is “same old, same old.” Just as “hosting” has a particular connotation, so does “art”, indicating that this way of working is not a recipe or a set of tools, but an art form in practice. You’ll notice a different language around the Art of Hosting and there’s a reason for that — we want to stimulate our thinking about this way of working in a new way.

Hosting initiatives are never run solo, but always by a Core Team working in collaboration. The practitioner field in action usually comprises both stewards and apprentices so that everyone learns together. Trainings in the Art of Hosting and the Art of Participatory Leadership have been offered all over the world, and now for the third time in Switzerland.

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“Who has taken part in this way of working?”

The Art of Hosting has been used in all types of communities from indigenous tribal settings to the European Commission. It has been used for small to large-scale meetings and is currently being used by the European Commission to initiate participatory leadership practices and citizen engagement. It is also being used for dramatically shifting healthcare in Columbus, Ohio; with Native American and First Nation tribes in Canada; and as part of re-establishing peace in Cote d’Ivoire and Zimbabwe. It has been scaled to community events and has been used inside organisations.

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“What’s unique about the Art of Hosting training?”

Two things. First, the training is offered by a Hosting Team using action learning. The team will facilitate the first day, but from Day 2, participants will be asked to step forward to lead and the Hosting Team will become the clients and the coaches, supporting participants to “learn on the job” and gain hands on, practical skills. We learn together as a community and immediately apply what we learn. Secondly, there is a focus both on hosting the meeting and on harvesting the meeting. Hosting is about how you create group meetings that help people to work well together, innovate from within and make a commitment for action. Harvesting is about making sure that what gets covered in a meeting actually goes somewhere.
We’re finding the harvest is one of the most important parts of our work now. After all, why have a meeting if nothing comes out of it? Participants will come away with practical experience in group processes and will be able to focus on specific projects with the support of the participant community. Following the training, all participants have the opportunity to become part of local and international Communities of Practice. If you are simply looking for new tools, this might not be for you, but if you know that the old way of doing things isn’t going to work for much longer, and you’re willing to challenge your thinking and your style, you will be stepping into a community that can help you. This training looks different, and is different from anything else in this field.

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“How can we make this training really work for us?”

Begin by being clear in your intention. If your intention is to demonstrate leadership in your sector, build capacity within your organisation and with stakeholders, and integrate what you find out fast, then we can support you to create the process to make this happen.

  • Get the team together. Who from your organisation should be involved? From other agencies? From partnership organisations & groups? From the wider community?
  • Decide what initiative will be the framework. Do you want to achieve something in the OD space or within your culture? Do you want to demonstrate leadership in your sector? Have you got an upcoming meeting or project that could be the reference site for this work? Do you want to build a platform for community engagement that works?
  • Look at how this work fits within your strategic plan and business scope in the foreseeable future — are you willing to commit to creating a community of practice within your team or organisation over the next 2 –3 years?
  • Work with us to scope the coaching support you need to achieve your goals and vision.
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“What if I’m interested, but I can’t afford the price?”

The Art of Hosting community works on the premise that people should give what they can and ask for what they need. If price is a barrier for you, please talk to us and let’s see what we can do together. Alternatively, if you can, please pay a little bit more than the price and support others to come along. If your organisation would like to send a bigger group, consider our group discount rate and offer some places to community, youth or your stakeholders or sector partners. Doing something challenging and worthwhile together is one of the best team buildings around!

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Still have questions?

We are happy to get your questions! Please don’t hesitate to write to us at: info@participatoryleadership.eu

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