作者: 顏瑛宗. 朝邦文教基金會董事長
就在基金會發展出推動對話的宗旨之時，我也兼任Toastmaster International (TI)國際演講協會世界總會的理事會成員，並於日前剛結束2014年TI國際演講協會世界總會長的任期。在過去九十年來，TI發展成全球最具代表性的非營利教育組織，在溝通與領導力的領域成為首屈一指的機構，目前協會已經發展出14,000個分會、315,000位會員，在全球126個國家，一起以誠信、尊重、服務、卓越為核心理念共同努力。
身為許多營利與非營利組織的董事長，我早就在這個字進入我的意識型態之前，開始採用這引導式的領導風格。其中很大的一部分原因，是源自於在25年前第一次擔任董事長時的經驗。當時我必須主持董事會，而大部分的成員都比我年長許多，而且有些股份還比我多。在台灣的私人企業裡，這表示我不能太過獨斷，必須低調行事，也不能太過堅持己見。這段過程對我來說是很好的訓練，因為之後我主持的董事會還涵蓋許多外籍的合夥人，有的持有半數或更多的股份。因誠信、尊重、服務的價值觀基礎而建立起的互信，成為了日後我負責的四個國際型的合資企業成功的黏合劑，也讓這些合資企業在接下來的數十年能夠繼續成功。同樣的，國際引導師協會會長Kimberly Bains在最近一次接受台灣EMBA雜誌( 2015年5月刊)專訪時也談及，誠信、尊重與服務也正是引導領域的核心理念。
牛津經濟學院(Oxford Economics) 的一份針對全球的趨勢報告表示，在美國的企業，員工價值的依據已經從知識與技巧等面向轉移到建立團隊、合作、對文化敏感的能力(從自我為中心轉移到以系統為中心的生態)。如果這是二十一世紀的趨勢，那麼引導就絕對是一個未來的主流技巧。
By: George Yen, Chairperson, CP Yen Foundation (朝邦文教基金會)
As the Chairperson of the CP Yen Foundation, I’d like to take this opportunity to contribute my personal experience in the foundation’s promotion of the art of dialogue over the past eight years.
During this time I was also serving on the Board of Directors for Toastmasters International (TI) and in 2014 concluded a term as TI International President. Over TI’s ninety years it has become the world’s leading non-profit educational organization in communication and leadership with 14,000 clubs and 315,000 members sharing the core values of integrity, respect, service and excellence across 126 countries.
As International President of Toastmasters International one of my primary roles is to chair countless meetings of different sizes, from the Executive Committee of five people to the Board of Director meetings of 20 people and up to the Annual General Meeting of over 2,500 people. My challenge as the meeting Chair was to tap into the group’s wisdom while making efficient use of our limited time to cover a range of issues from the mundane to the strategic.
Since TI is a volunteer organization there is no real authority in the traditional sense. Members can quit the organization at any time they choose. This volunteer reality combined with our philosophy of “servant leadership” means that a facilitative style of leadership is more effective than an authoritarian style.
Among the meetings that I have chaired in my career at TI, one in particular stands out in my memory as an example of facilitation’s transformative power. As the Immediate Past International President I found myself chairing the Advisory Council of Past International Presidents who are in disagreement with recent decisions made by the current Board of Directors. I decided the best way to chair this potentially fractious meeting would be to adopt the style of a facilitator. As facilitator I needed to not be a member of the discussion, to maintain an open mind and a neutral role. Listening became my most effective tool.
Many people perceive the Chairperson as an authority who advocates a clear point of view. In my experience that may not be necessarily true. In chairing a meeting one has to put aside the authority of his office as well as to suspend advocating his point of view on a particular matter. The Chair’s primary task is to maintain a safe space and to encourage participants to express their views so that all perspectives are heard, recognized, and contribute to the group reaching a decision.
As Chairperson of both for-profit and non-profit organizations I had adopted the facilitative style long before the word entered my consciousness. Part of this has to do with my first Chairperson role over 25 years ago. I had to chair Board of Directors whose members were more senior and older than I was and, more importantly, own big blocks of shares. In Taiwan’s privately held businesses that means I cannot exercise unilateral authority but instead had to adapt a low profile role and let go of the all too human attachment to being right. This turned out to be great training as subsequent Boards that I chaired involved foreign joint ventures partners who own half or more of the shares. Establishing trust based on shared values of integrity, respect and service became the glue that successfully kept the four international joint ventures for which I was responsible to continue to thrive over the decades. Integrity, respect and service are also the values behind facilitation as articulated by Kimberly Bains, Chair of International Association of Facilitators (IAF), in her recent interview in Taiwan’s EMBA magazine.
With this background, a facilitative style in routine internal corporate meetings has for me become second nature. It is relevant to note that of the six companies I Chair produce a diverse range of products from foundry machineries, steel abrasives and industrial valves, to high tech equipment. I would be the first to admit I am not an expert in any of the areas of these industries. This lack of domain knowledge and industry expertise only reinforces my dependence on facilitation to tap into the knowledge and experience of the group. Among the benefits of this way of conducting meetings is that the managers feel respected and empowered. In the process it encourages ownership and contributions among the participants. The reward is building a team that is essentially self–managing and furthermore has proven to work remarkably well over the years.
A recent global forecasting by Oxford Economics reports that for corporations in the United States employee value is shifting from technical expertise to those who are good team builders, collaborative and have cultural sensitivities (a shift from being ego-centric to centered on serving the system’s ecology). If this is the trend of work in the 21st century then facilitation is a skill whose time has come.
Transforming organizational culture can take years or even decades. A key learning for me is that facilitation is not a skill that can be learned or that can produce magical overnight transformation. Equally important is internalizing the spirit of facilitation into our being and letting that being manifest its magic over time. Mohandas Gandhi said it so well, one must “be the change you want to see.”