Discovering the human being behind the leader using Celebrity Interview

In Communicate, facilitation, Leadership, Liberating Structures by chuzzeteLeave a Comment

In this post, I will share how we used #TheLiberatingStructure Celebrity Interview to discover the human being behind the leader of a brand new team and how that helped to build a relationship of trust with its new team.

The Context

After an organizational change, a brand new group composed by three existing teams was created, and “Bob” was designated as its leader.

Bob’s first mandate was to come up with a vision for its new group within a 3 weeks time frame. He wanted to do that with the help of his new 14 people team, and that was our queue to propose him a way to do it by putting into practice the following #LiberatingStructures principles:

  • Including and unleashing everyone
  • Practice Self-Discovery Within a Group
  • Build Trust As You Go
  • Practice Deep Respect for People and Local Solutions

Our purpose/intention

We wanted to help the group to start building its own vision collectively, by connecting first with the human being behind their new leader, and having a better understanding of his dreams and ambitions for the group. We wanted to do that, by ensuring that everyone’s concerns were voiced, listened and equally discussed.

How we proceeded ?

To help us achieve our purpose, we proposed a 3 hours first round of conversations using the following string of #LiberatingStructures, and other activities:

  1. To set the stage and get the group ready to work and collaborate, we ask participants to build their Spiral Journal for the workshop and then share it with their colleagues using an Impromptu Networking.
  2. To help Bob with sharing its Vision, dreams and ambitions for the group, and get the group to know more about the human being behind the leader, we used Celebrity Interview. An explanation will follow.
    • We used a 1-2 (a shorter version of 1-2-4-ALL) to help the group voice its concerns and raise questions without being exposed. Then the leader was asked to answer all the question that emerged from its group.
  3. Then, Bob proposed the group to use the Business Model Canvas, to create a Business Model for the group to clearly communicate to clients why they should do business with them.
    • In this round of conversations, we covered two of the main sections of the canvas (Customer Segments and the Value Proposition)
  4. We closed the workshop, with a Snowball Fight as a way to gather people’s willingness to keep going with building its team’s vision and everything that goes with it.

Celebrity Interview Pre-requisits

Two days before the workshop, we (me and my colleague and co-facilitator Jo) met with Bob, to explain him the idea behind the Celebrity Interview, how we wanted to proceed and what was our intention.

Then we asked him to tell us more about his dreams, vision and ambitions for the group, and we said to him that will prepare some questions that would help him tell the group what he said to us, but through a given set of questions like if he were being interviewed on TV/Radio.

The day before the workshop, we met again to show him some of the questions we were willing to ask in front of his new group. He was “ok” with the approach, even if it was the first time he would be sharing its vision through something different than a Powerpoint deck.

Space arrangement and materials needed

  • The Interviewer (Jo) and the celebrity(Bob) were in the front of the room where everyone can see and hear the interaction.
  • Participants (group members) were seating in chairs. We set up the room using an U format, close to where Bob and Jo were seating.
  • Given, that I was the one in charge of telling the group about the sequence of steps we would follow and its timing, I was physically placed behind participants, just in front of Bob and Jo.
  • All participants got a sharpie marker and an index card to take notes during the interview.

Sequence of steps and time allocation

  1. Interviewer (Jo) welcomed and introduced the celebrity (Bob) and topic to be discussed. 3 min.
  2. Jo asked questions that the audience would be expected to ask (both humor and gravity are appropriate). 10 minutes.
    • Tell us Bob, how do you feel about this new challenge?
    • What do you bring to the group?
    • Tell us more about your and your previous experiences.
    • What’s s your dream for the group?
    • What do you aspire to get from the group?
    • What can be expected from you?
    • How would you describe yourself as a leader?
    • What values do you live for?
    • What passionates you in life?
    • What drives you nuts at the workplace?
    • What could frustrate you when working with people?
    • What ambitions do you have for the people in the group?
    • What are the key elements of your vision for the group?
  1. We invited participants to generate additional questions in a 1-2 conversation and then on 3-by-5-inch cards. 5 minutes.
  2. Interviewer(Jo) sifts the cards, looking for patterns and asking additional questions to the celebrity. 10 minutes.
  3. Interviewer(Jo) makes closing comments, thanked the celebrity (Bob). 1 min.

Tips and Tricks

  • Facilitate it in pairs. Jo and myself we were able to help each other because we were two in the room. He was fully in charge of the interview and I was fully concentrated on people’s reactions during the interview.
  • Get celebrity’s buy-in. Meet several times before the Celebrity Interview, so then everyone knows what would be happening.
  • When playing the interviewer role, do everything in your power to make the celebrity feel comfortable during the interview. Your job is to make them shine and help the audience connect with.
  • Avoid using your words when reading the questions that emerged from the audience. Just read the question.
  • Pay attention to the Celebrity’s mood. If you feel there are some doubts about the way things will go, do your best to listen to its concerns before starting the interview.


  • Bob was extremely satisfied after the interview, he felt we were able to engage the audience into his vision and make it better with the help of the group.
  • Group members were listening carefully to what its leader was saying. We got 10 questions from a group of 15 people, all concerns were answered directly by the leader and all questions were related to the subject under discussion.
  • We didn’t need to use the existing power point deck, the Celebrity Interview did it all.
  • Everyone felt listened and I think this was a breaking point to help the group with becoming a great team, starting by building a connection with the human being behind their new leader.
  • It was great to co-facilitate with Jo and I will do it again 🙂

Call to action

  • Did you find what I wrote appealing and want to see more?
  • Would you like to learn more get hands on #LiberatingStructures experience, lead your teams to better results and change the way you, they, your organization works forever?

Here some options that I have prepared for you to keep us growing together:

All the best,


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