Reposted with permission from The Ringel Group Blog, A Fresh Perspective 

We don’t hold meetings on a football field, but great quarterbacks do. Five-time league MVP Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos can teach us a lot about facilitation. He dedicates extraordinary preparation to his sport, but will shift his team in the moment to make the play.

Great facilitators are masterful planners. They work from a playbook, mapping stakeholder interests, performing needs assessments, defining meeting objectives and exacting myriad hard skills in the craft of facilitation.

But facilitation is also an art, and a sport, and facilitators must be great pivoters, deftly relying on intuition, emotional intelligence, experience and self-awareness to know when it’s time to shift strategies.

Imagine a great basketball player like LeBron James or Stephen Curry, the ball of their pivot foot planted on the floor, spinning jab step with the other, all the while scanning the court for an opening.

This metaphor of cunning athleticism perfectly conveys when describing the turns, revolutions and evolutions of the facilitator, at once grounded and yet prepared to spin in conscious motion in service to the team.

On the playing field and in life, the only constant is change. The court or field of the facilitator is of course the meeting space, where predefined agendas and processes meet head to head with evolving group needs. Stick strictly to the playbook and your message may fall on deaf ears.

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Rae Ringel, a Wexner Graduate Fellowship alum (Class 9), is a certified executive coach and founding President of The Ringel Group. She is a faculty member at the Georgetown University Institute for Transformational Leadership and was recognized in 2013 by the International Coaching Federation for excellence in the field. Prior to starting the The Ringel Group, Rae was the Director of Professional and Volunteer Development at United Jewish Communities, a two-billion dollar annual enterprise that provides global humanitarian and development assistance. Rae has served as faculty both for the Wexner Mentorship Program and for the Heritage Program. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and four children and can be reached at