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Episode 096

January 20, 2021

096: The interconnections between facilitation and leadership with John Varney

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    Exploring the overlap between facilitation and leadership was an exciting proposition to me, but I didn’t expect it to encompass everything from architecture and dance to mountaineering and collaging.

    But such is the journey when John Varney gets into his eloquent stride!

    John has been involved in leadership, facilitation, and the grey space between them for over 30 years and his Centre for Management Creativity serves as a bastion for clear-thinking and change-making for companies worldwide.

    Join us in this episode as we search for the common ancestor of leadership and facilitation.

    The opportunity to join John in conversation is one that everyone – no matter what title you give yourself – will benefit from. This is an opportunity you’d be wise to claim with both hands.

    Find out about

    • How teams can find their flow state by aligning on their purpose
    • Why it’s important to focus on purpose, not short-termism
    • Why play, creativity, and cocreation are the cornerstones of alignment
    • How to respond when your workshop uncovers a deeper issue that needs addressing
    • Where facilitation and leadership overlap
    • The important distinction between leaders and leadership
    • What John’s learned about leadership from facilitating so many leadership teams

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    Feeling inspired by the conversation in this episode? We can have our own – take a seat at my virtual table as part of a Mastermind Group.

    A huge thank you must go to SessionLab, the sponsor of Workshops Work. Claim your free two months of SessionLab Pro now – this deal is exclusive to Workshops Work listeners!

    Questions and Answers

    01:07When did you start calling yourself a facilitator?

    02:13What’s the difference between a facilitator and a consultant?

    04:54What did you learn from this experience – did it shape your view of facilitation at all?

    06:03How do we draw the line between being our authentic selves and being the facilitator participants need?

    12:20Do you think you can bring more of yourself to a life design workshop than a managerial one?

    15:53Can you explain more about what the Stanford Life Design Lab is?

    18:02How much do you life design to your personal and professional life?

    19:19How can you tell when the right moment is to step outside your comfort zone?

    24:01Is there a perfect time to redesign your life?

    26:43Life design asks us to be both facilitator and participant. Is this possible?

    36:40Can facilitators actually facilitate their own life?

    39:55What is your experience with co-facilitating meetings with managers?

    44:46What is something you’ve learned from the life design process that you think can apply to managers right now?

    51:37If we could workshop the worldwide transition out of the pandemic, what would it look like?

    53:10What makes a workshop fail?


    The Centre for Management Creativity, John’s business

    High Trenhouse, John’s management workshop and retreat venue

    John’s book, Leadership as Meaning Making


    Connect to John