ProMeet - Professional Meeting Faciliation

Participative leadership in actionProfessional Meeting Facilitation


Participatory leadership

A leadership idea that supports people working together effectively
In 2007, following two years facilitating service design workshops, ProMeet founder, Sean Blair set out with an intention to design and build a system that would help improve the effectiveness and productivity of meetings. The ProMeet principles and methods are demonstrably effective (links to what ProMeet clients say...).

The simplicity of the ProMeet tools belies the ideas they are based on.

A bit like the 'Intel inside' campaign that helped users understand the central processing unit, CPU or 'chip' was the key component of a computer, the key component inside ProMeet is participatory leadership.

A definition of Participatory Leadership

“The participatory leadership paradigm is based on respect and engagement. It constructively focuses energy in every human to human encounter. 

An advanced, democratic and effective model of leadership, it
harnesses diversity, builds community, and creates shared responsibility for action.

Because it deepens individual and collective learning, yielding
real development and growth, it is a leadership paradigm that is particularly effective in enabling change within organisations. ”
Participatory leaders are typically post conventional leaders (1). Their action logic is driven by wanting to interact with people to make meaning, work with purpose, learn and grow, both self and others and transform organisations.

Participatory leadership is a sustainable and empowering way to create successful organisation development and change.

Participatory leaders use time working together, often in meetings, as a mechanism through which to release potential, grow a collective understanding of, and commitment to vision, strategy and aligned action.

This capacity is especially important in the fast changing, highly networked time we now live in.

The ProMeet methodology and tools have been designed specifically to enable participatory leadership.

ProMeet is a simple tool, powerful in the hands of participatory leaders. It is being used by government departments, multi national corporations, Universities, charities and fast growth small businesses.

In this sense, ProMeet is participatory leadership at work.

Footnote: 1. Torbert & Rook, Seven Transformations of Leadership Harvard Business Review

Participatory leadership, not a new-to-the-world idea.

'Participatory management' might have been first suggested in 1926 by Mary Parker Follett a management consultant and social worker.

Follett advocated the principle of what she termed "integration," or non-coercive power-sharing based on the use of her concept of "power with" rather than "power over."

Wise words indeed.


Prof. Henryk Skolimowski, author of The Participatory Mind puts the fundamental need for participation thus:

“Don't ask me for rules and mechanisms of participatory democracy.

If I gave them to you, I would take away an essential aspect of your participation.

Without participation we atrophy in every sense of the term.

We must take responsibility.

We must participate.

We must simply awake to the great call of our destiny.”

Participatory Leadership - A short presentation

Participatory Leadership
If you'd like a copy of a set of slides with further background on Participatory Leadership, email

It includes slides on single, double and triple loop learning. And slides on first, second and third person inquiry.

Participatory Leadership - References


From a management perspective, the ‘model’ of change leadership has grown from understanding and use of other bodies of work, notably;

John Kotter, and his work on
Leading Change, a small and well respected transformation consultancy, the Bridge Partnership, and the work of Bill Torbert and David Rooke and their work on personal and organisational development.

Our change leadership work, embodied by leaders using meetinge to participatively create change, could not function without the insight and wisdom provided by these practitioners.

Philosophical Underpinning

Our work is underpinned by an abiding belief in the emergence of a ‘participatory worldview’, written about in many, many guises.

Particular thanks is given here to Henryk Skolimowski for his book, ‘
The Participatory Mind’, Richard Tarnas for his book, ‘The Passion of the Western Mind’.

Two excellent books that lay the foundations for the idea of Participatory Leadership.

Other key influences

There are very many other very well respected practitioners who work has been an inspiration to the development of our own practice, key influences to our work include:

Lynda Gratton’s brilliant work on ‘
Hot Spots’.

Harrison Owen, and his seminal work on
Open Space Technology.

David Staus and his work on how to make meetings and
collaboration work.

Andy Bounds excellent and entertaining work on clear communication, the
Jelly Effect.

Acknowledgement and thanks to others thinkers and writers:

James Surowiecki, Malcolm Gladwell, Willam Isaacs, Gary Hamel, David Bohm, Ken Wilbur, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras and countless other people who’s work has informed the thinking of all the authors here as well as ourselves.

Thanks also to:

Dan Start, Jo Howard, Nick Neilsen, Richard Wilson, Tammy Siebert, Michael Frye, Lynda Gratton, Valerie Hannon, Lee Sears, David Wilcox, Charles Handy, Mike Gibbons, Gareth Wynne, Charles Leadbeater, Sheelagh Douglas, Elizabeth Rouse, Pat Christie, Jan Conway, Liz Kerr, Emiliy Leadbetter, Chris Wainwright, Linda Drew, Peter Hawkins, Bridget Farrands, Brian Clivaz, Paul Crake, Judith Hemming, Kerry Sullivan, David Young, Penny Egan, Jules Goddard, Richard Tyrie, Jayne Hilditch, Anja Kluever, Richard Eiserman, Clare Byers, Stefan Moritz, Jamie Anley, Jonathan Carr-West, Suzie Harries, Angela Kennedy, Richard Brow, Matthew Taylor, Susan Butler, Katie Christie, Graham Honeywill, Dan Brophy, David Jackson, Simon Milton, Stuart Hampson, Nick Atkins, Harvey Dodson, Kevin Gavaghan, Birgit Mager, Nick Udall, David Grayson, Charles Fallon, Nick Horswell and Andrew Summers.
You have all helped develop this body of work.
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