The role of forum moderator – being a peer leader of other leaders – can be challenging at times. Take to heart these seven tips and you too can be a successful moderator.
- Don’t be a “chill” host. As suggested by Priya Parker in her beautiful book The Art of Gathering, leading requires planning, intentionality and focus. Great (forum) meetings don’t just happen by chance.
- Model vulnerability. If you want others to share, be the first to open up yourself. Your willingness to lean in will be contagious and inspire others to do the same.
- Delegate! Don’t feel you have to do it all yourself. Healthy forums operate on a voluntary, shared leadership model where everyone is expected to pitch in to support the group’s activities.
- Agree to norms and live by them. A forum constitution can be a touchstone of shared values, commitments and expectations that can be referred to whenever situations develop that may disrupt the group’s equilibrium or effectiveness.
- Clear the air early and often. Letting annoyances, distractions and anger build up can lower trust and lead to forum members disengaging. Addressing issues before they escalate helps create a healthy space for members to share their toughest life challenges and highest aspirations.
- Get on the “balcony”. Regularly take an outsider’s perspective. How are we doing? Are we hearing from everyone? How can we improve?
- Be willing to experiment! Almost every aspect of forum can benefit from mixing it up occasionally. Doing something once doesn’t commit the group to stick with it forever.
- Ask questions of genuine curiosity. When stressed, refrain from judging questions, and instead ask learning questions. How did you come to see the situation this way? How does this issue affect you? What leads you to believe this is the right way forward? What questions do you think we should be asking ourselves?