Facilitators accept responsibility for moving through the agenda in the allotted time, guiding the process, and suggesting alternate or additional techniques. In this sense, they do lead the group. However, they do not give their personal opinions nor do they attempt to direct the content of the discussion. If they want to participate, they must clearly relinquish their role and speak as an individual.
During the Meeting, individuals are responsible for expressing their own concerns and thoughts. Facilitators, on the other hand, are responsible for addressing the needs of the group. They need to be aware of the group dynamics and constantly evaluate whether the discussion is flowing well. If it is not, there may be a need for a change in the discussion technique. They need to be diligent about the fair distribution of attention, being sure to limit those who are speaking often and offering opportunities to those who are not speaking much or at all. It follows that one person cannot simultaneously give attention to the needs of the group and think about a personal response to the content of what is being discussed. Also, it is not appropriate for the Facilitator to give a particular point of view or dominate the discussion. This does not build trust, especially in those who do not agree with the Facilitator.
Source: On Conflict & Consensus
Contributors: Amy Rothstein, C.T. Butler
Recommended Books: On Conflict on Consensus