How To Lead A Killer Discussion Group
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Student Life

How To Lead A Killer Discussion Group

Be a stagecoach driver.

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How To Lead A Killer Discussion Group
Pexels

Being a small group leader this last week, and getting the training that comes with and through that, has convinced me that one of this life's greatest moments of fulfillment has to be watching eight girls you have prayed and wept and laughed and debated with and over be able to hold their own in conversations of the deepest of valleys and the most monumental of peaks. The concepts that fifteen girls who are after pure truth are able to grasp is mind-blowing, and I believe that the environment we have been able to create as a group has helped allow for these concepts to get out into the open space of vulnerability and questioning.

We have all been in a discussion that we would characterize as bad for various reasons, such as its qualities of judgment, exclusion, domination, rabbit trailing, apathy, unclear conclusions, etc. Likewise, most can say they have been in conversations with good discussion qualities like focus, empathy, understanding, passion, comfortability, and honesty. The tricky part comes when you want to have the second kind of conversation while under the direction of a discussion leader. As a small group leader over the last week, I have learned firsthand that the best way to lead is to not lead at all.

One of our speakers for staff training gave the illustration of a train conductor. The train starts very slowly before picking up speed, staying on one singular track thanks to the conductor. This is what a discussion leader does; they start the train in one direction and keep it going in that direction, staying on task and not needing much help to do so. They are in complete control. This does not foster an environment of participation and openness, though.

The alternative is this: imagine you are a stagecoach driver. You hold the reins of several horses who, on their own, would go every which way. They hold the power, or speed, of the conversation, which follows them as the driver gently directs them if they start to fight or lose their way. This is a discussion facilitator and the key to truly leading quality conversations.

This metaphor has dramatically improved the way I hold even day-to-day conversations. In my small group, I try to do very little of the talking when it comes to big topics, instead posing questions, correcting the occasional error, and bringing the girls back to focus if - no, when - a distraction occurs. I would highly encourage you to give it a try. Like anything, a little practice will go a long way, but driving horses is much easier than you might think.

*Most of this information is courtesy of professional life coach Paige Gutacker.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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