The Role of the Team Leader in a Workshop: Do’s and Don’ts

“As Team Leader, what is my role during a facilitated workshop for my team?”

You’ve booked a workshop with a topic expert because you feel your team needs to learn more about the topic and develop an appreciation for the importance of building related skills or creating change… and you want them to hear it from someone other than you.

This can be a powerful catalyst for inspiring change from your team – and yet, sometimes going into team environments I see leaders creating blocks to this change, without meaning to. This can be either from a perceived lack of leadership engagement (when requested to be involved in the workshop, they may arrive late, stay for only part, don’t actively participate in the activities or allow too many interruptions); or the blocks to change may be because of  over-engagement by the leader (an enthusiasm to make sure the team is ‘getting it’ comes across as a lecture as they regularly interject to say their piece). 

The first problem blocks the team from buying in to the process if they feel the leader doesn’t believe in it. The second problem blocks the team because instead of it being their process, it is seen as being only about leadership’s agenda.

What your role isn’t:

  • Being too busy and important to fully engage in the workshop with your team (if the facilitator has recommended that you be there)
  • Leading the discussions or being the first to contribute every time
  • Answering questions for staff
  • Pushing the point by continuously emphasising what the facilitator is saying
  • ‘Helicopter leading’: Hovering over discussions and activities as staff work in small groups

What it is:

  • A champion for change: Showing your enthusiasm and excitement for the topic and carrying on the momentum after the workshop, while inviting staff to contribute to its implementation.
  • A role-model as a life-long learner: Demonstrating that you, too, are engaged in the content and feel you can learn and improve. You can also share your wisdom by contributing examples or personal reflections on what you have learned in your career.
  • A support for staff: Showing, during and after the workshop, that you are there to support their growth in this area, through being a sounding board and providing further time and resources as needed, as well as the psychological safety, for staff to try new things and develop.

Team Leader Best Practice During a Workshop

As the team leader, it is important you demonstrate with your actions, as well as your words, that you believe in the workshop process and the area for change in general.

It is also crucial that you take a backseat during the workshop, to give your staff room to explore the subject and engage fully. It should be mostly their voices we hear in the room, not the team leader’s (and not even the facilitator’s).

It is, however, usually very important to have the team leader’s voice in workshop discussions and activities, but this is much more about support and enthusiasm than it is about getting your point across… so the best thing you can do is let the facilitator inspire your people and guide the change process.

Your facilitator can help you lead the change

Clarify with your workshop facilitator how they would like you to contribute, and what would be the best way to generate interest and commitment before, during and after the workshop. The facilitator may have strategies in place that can support your leadership in this area, such as introductory material for staff and processes to support integration of learning moving forward.


Julissa Shrewsbury
Brand Culture & Team Personal Branding Specialist

If you are interested in learning more about Julissa and her workshops on Essemy, please visit this link.

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