On his blog, Small Group Leadership, my friend Michael Mack quotes Donald Miller’s interview of Jim Lehrer. Miller asked Lehrer how to moderate a political debate, and Mack applies the same approach to small group leadership.

He says there are two keys to moderating any discussion:
1. The focus is on the participants, not the moderator.
2. A moderator must prepare in such a way that he is relaxed enough to listen.

I would encourage you to read his comments. I agree with his points, and would suggest that this level of comfort comes from experience and practice. The more you lead and the better prepared you are, the more you can listen, focus on the participants, and draw people to greater insights. New leaders often are so busy trying to do it right that they forget why they are doing it. Experienced leaders gain an intuition of when to follow the lesson plan and when to veer off, when to ask the next question and when to let the discussion go on.  And in most situations, the experienced leader can maneuver through controversy and even heated discussion with aplomb.

So, how do you become an experienced leader? By experiencing being a leader– over and over. You probably won’t start as a skilled leader, but you don’t have to shy away from leading just because someone else does it better. And leaders, be sure to give others in your group the opportunity to lead from time to time. It’s refreshing to hear a new voice, a new approach, and it will help your members develop a new skill. Maybe a dormant skill that the member didn’t even know he or she had!

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12 Comments so far

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  3. Mike Mack on May 2, 2010 10:56 am

    Thanks for the mention, Pat! Love your analysis of it, too. Just as a clarification, the interviewer was Dennis, not Donald, Miller. Both great guys, but very very different!

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