朝邦文教基金會 CP Yen Foundation

推動對話力, 促進社會正向改變,朝向永續發展的城邦

6月份對話新訊息:「引導型的會議主席」The Facilitative Chairperson

「引導型的會議主席」

作者: 顏瑛宗. 朝邦文教基金會董事長

身為朝邦文教基金會的董事長,我想要利用這個機會分享我們基金會在過去八年來推廣對話的藝術的個人經驗.

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Toastmaster International國際演講協會世界總會長,我的主要角色之一,就是主持各種規格的會議,包括由五位成員組成的執行委員會的會議、20位理事組成的理事會會議,甚至超過2500名成員的會員年度會議。主持這些會議時,我的挑戰是連結到團體的智慧,同時有效地運用有限的時間,討論從微小的細節到大方向等諸多的議題。

由於TI是一個自發性的組織,並沒有傳統中所謂的實權的問題。組織的成員可以隨時離開。這種自願性的現實狀況,加上組織所堅持的「僕人式的領導風格」,表示引導式的領導風格其實比權威式的領導風格有效許多。

在TI主持的許多會議當中,令我最印象深刻的一次,就是一場運用引導轉移權力的會議。身為甫卸任世界總會長,需要主持由歷屆世界總會長組成的顧問委員會的會議,其中有些人反對現任理事會最近做出的決議。在當下我決定最能夠有效主持這場充滿情緒的會議的方式,就是採取引導的方式。因為扮演引導式的主席,我不需要參與討論,只需要保持開放的心態、中立的態度即可。聆聽成為我最有效的工具。

大多數的人認為主席應該是一位權威的人士,擁有很明確的觀點。在我的經驗裡,並非一定如此。主席主持會議時,必須將自己的位階擺在一旁,懸掛自己的觀點。主席的主要任務就是維持一個安全的空間,鼓勵參與者表達自己的觀點,讓各種的觀點都能被聽到、肯定、並帶來貢獻,促成團體做出決定。

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。

基於這樣的機緣,在公司內部會議中以引導的風格進行會議,對我來說是非常自然的。在這裡我必須提一下,我所管理的六家公司所生產的產品相當多元,從鑄造機械設備及零件、、工業閥門到高科技器材都有。我也必須承認自己在這些領域都不是最內行的人。但是對產業有限的了解更讓我倚賴引導的能力,讓我更能貼近團體的知識與經驗。以這樣的模式開會所帶來的效益之一,就是我的經理人們都覺得受到尊重、受到激勵。這樣的過程讓參與的人們願意負起責任、有所貢獻。也因此我建立起一個基本上是自我管理的團隊,在這些年來有很高的成效。

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。

轉變一個組織的文化可能需要好幾年,甚至好幾十年。我所學到的一個重要的學習就是,引導並不是一個可以用學的技巧,也不是一個可以帶來瞬間變化的技巧。一樣重要的是將引導的精神內化,成為我們行為模式的一部分,讓這精神隨著時間慢慢發酵。就如甘地先生所說,「你自己必須成為你在世上想見到的那個改變。」

The Facilitative Chairperson

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.” 

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