Art of Participatory Leadership
(aka The Art of Hosting)


Course Description

This workshop will introduce you to a set of methodologies and principles for engaging groups in meaningful conversation, deliberate collaboration, and group-supported action. You will learn some basics of how to design & host powerful conversations, meetings, summits, and conferences that can lead to positive change in your organization or community.

You will increase your ability to:

  • Create a sense of shared purpose, ownership and commitment.

  • Tap into your network’s collective intelligence and creativity.

  • Nurture a safe place for open, honest dialogue & inquiry.

  • Inspire diverse voices.

  • Open up space to explore possibilities.

  • Engage & energize everyone in the conversation.

Participants will learn about and explore a sense-making model called the Cynefin Framework, practice methodologies such as World Café, The Circle Way, & Appreciative Inquiry, & learn how to shape a powerful question.

Standard Course Length

  • ½-day Introductory Training

  • 3-day Full Training

  • Customized team leadership capacity building trainings


I just had to take a minute to say what a beautiful and rich experience our team received this week. I am reveling this morning in the team-bonding and the powerful new concepts that we learned over the week.

Participatory Leadership is a rich, dynamic experience that challenges your mindset and gives you a practical pathway in working with complex issues. It makes a difference in the real world.

Paul and Steve were instrumental in helping light a fire of inspiration across our organization and were phenomenal partners in this effort.


Please contact us for pricing information.

FAcilitated by

Paul Horton – Principal Member of The Athena Group since 2013. Paul is a leadership and strategy coach and organizational change professional with over 20 years of experience working with the public, private, non-profit, and higher education sectors.  He is keenly aware of the pressures decision-makers and leaders are under to deliver in the face of rapid change, uncertainty, budget and time constraints, and increasing demands from stakeholders.  Paul sees his work as helping leaders navigate complexity and change, lead with clarity, and achieve internal alignment and coherence. He also works with groups to help them become more adaptive and resilient and build and sustain a culture of trust, mutual respect, and on-going learning. Paul’s work is grounded in both a theoretical and a practical understanding of systems thinking, organizational theory, and group (or “process oriented”) dynamics.  He specializes in using dialogue-based, participatory approaches to engage diverse perspectives, build social capital, and improve organizational outcomes. Paul is skilled at facilitating meetings where there is a high degree difference or divisiveness, and that generate personal insights and uncover innovative possibilities for moving forward. Paul received his Master’s in Leadership in Complexity & Strategic Sustainable Development from the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden.  He also earned a Certificate in Sustainable Business from Pinchot Graduate School. Paul is also a certified CoResolve instructor (CoResolve is an adjunct of Deep Democracy, a facilitation methodology for engaging conflict and working with differences).

Steve Byers has 20 years of experience working with teams and leaders, and in convening important conversations in communities and organizations. He has designed and facilitated conversations in culturally diverse communities and organizations on such topics as racism and fair policing, employment and recreation for people with disabilities, access to health care in rural communities, strengthening families to prevent child abuse and neglect, and social determinants of health in immigrant communities. He also trains people to do this work, thus building capacity in the community. Steve works with teams and leaders to improve performance, strengthen working relationships, and increase team member well-being. He has presented multiple interactive workshops at various conferences in the last 15 years, including Elevate Early Learning (Tacoma), In2:InThinking Annual Forum (Los Angeles), and the Pegasus Systems Thinking in Action conference (Boston & Seattle). Any workshop Steve offers can be customized for an organization so that the participants can do real relevant work while learning. Steve is a graduate of the Organization Systems Renewal program at Seattle University. He is an experienced “Art of Hosting” facilitator and trainer. He designs and teaches workshops for organizations and the public, and teaches in a graduate leadership studies program at St. Mary’s College of California. Steve is also the owner of Helping Human Systems, a consulting practice to develop leadership capacity.